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article imageOregon traveler almost killed by flesh-eating parasite

By Katerina Nikolas     Mar 6, 2012 in Health
An Oregon man who was bitten by a sand fly in January 2011, during a trip to South America, is still fighting the flesh-eating parasitic infection that resulted in an oozing, disfiguring growth on his face.
Adam Spencer was traveling with fiancee Shalynn Pack on a six-month trip through South America, when Spencer received a bite from a sand fly on a riverbank in Peru. The small bite grew as the parasites burrowed through his right cheeks for months, before being diagnosed as leishmaniasis braziliensis, caused by the leishmania parasite.
When Spencer did seek medical attention the parasitic infection went undiagnosed at first. A doctor was concerned that if the infection spread into his nose and eyes it could kill him. The Daily Mail (which features a video of Spencer) reported he said "I felt like my body was breaking down," as the parasite fed off his immune cells.
advises "educating health care providers to recognize and treat leishmaniasis in both endemic and non-endemic countries is imperative" due to the increased risk through travel to areas where the parasite is prevalent. Ninety percent of all mucocutaneous leishmaniasis occur in Peru, Bolivia and Brazil, according to ITG, and evidence suggests the disease dates back to the first century AD.
A biopsy on April 26 proved positive for leishmaniasis, suspected by an Argentinian dermatologist . A second biopsy was sent to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to identify the exact strain. Treatment began in May using intravenous injections of the drug Pentostam, yet to be approved by the FDA. His treatment involved 21 injections on consecutive days followed by twice weekly misting sprays. Doctors are hopeful that the wound may heal by the end of 2012.
Adam Spencer is now featured on the program "Monsters Inside Me" due to be broadcast in Britain on March 25.
More about Mucocutaneous Leishmaniasis, Leishmania, adam spencer, flesheating parasite, Pentostam
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