Project leader: Alexandra CHASKOPOULOU
Background: Sand fly species (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebomominae) of the genera Phlebotomus (Old World) and Lutzomyia (New World) are responsible for the transmission of Leishmania parasitic protozoans. At least 20 Leishmania species cause visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis in humans worldwide. Approximately 1.3 million new cases of leishmaniasis and 20,000 – 30,000 deaths occur annually. Even though leishmaniasis is not common in the United States (occasional cases have been acquired in Oklahoma and Texas, (CDC 2014), the disease constitutes a major threat to the US military during their overseas operations. In addition, during the last 10 years, vector-borne diseases have impacted military operations, with 2,549 cases of leishmaniasis, 916 cases of malaria, 930 cases of dengue, and 349 cases of arthropod-borne hemorrhagic fevers reported in US military service members and military health system beneficiaries. Thus, the US military is very interested in the development methods to manage vectors.