American soldiers have finally defeated the dreaded sand fly, with a new topical cream that erases the unsightly sores, caused by sand flea bites, in less than three weeks.
Ever since World War II, American troops have been victims of, leishmaniasis, a skin disease caused by the bite of sand flies found in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some 2,000 U.S. troops have caught it in the last five years. While not fatal, leishmaniasis sores can take months, or years, to heal. The only cure is 10-20 days of intravenous application of a drug developed half a century ago. At any given time, 5-10 American soldiers or marines are getting this cure, in the two military hospitals that can administer the treatment. The sores vary in size from what looks like a cigarette burn, to the diameter of a beer can. The larger ones are not only uncomfortable, but can leave nasty scars when they do finally heal.
Leishmaniasis sores are one of those things that makes life miserable for combat troops (the ones most likely to get close to the flies, and get bit). While less than one percent of combat troops have gotten leishmaniasis sores, that's enough so that just about every combat trooper knows someone who has it, and that makes the possibility of getting it yourself very real. Thus the cream, whose main active ingredient is the antibiotic paromomycin, is a major morale booster for the guys doing the fighting over there.