Epidemiology and Infection

Short Report

Parasitic Diseases

The persisting burden of visceral leishmaniasis in Iraq: data of the National Surveillance System, 1990–2009

B. MAJEEDa1 c1, J. SOBELa1, A. NAWARa2, S. BADRIa2 and H. MUSLIMa2

a1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Global Health, Atlanta, GA, USA

a2 Ministry of Health, Communicable Disease Control Center, Baghdad, Iraq


Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is an endemic parasitic disease transmitted by the bite of sand flies. To describe trends and demographics of reported VL cases, we reviewed surveillance data from 1990–2009. Reported VL incidence per 100 000 population was 2·6 in 2007, 3·1 in 2008, and 4·8 in 2009, mostly in children aged <5 years. The number of cases varied greatly in step with prevailing economic and security conditions, raising concerns about the completeness and quality of surveillance data. Nevertheless, we conclude that VL remains an important endemic disease in Iraq and that surveillance system is recovering the capacity to detect cases as the country experiences greater stability. We recommend conducting formal entomological investigations, and evaluating existing control measures.

(Received April 05 2011)

(Revised January 25 2012)

(Accepted March 08 2012)

(Online publication April 04 2012)

Key words

  • Epidemiology;
  • Iraq;
  • surveillance;
  • visceral leishmaniasis


c1 Author for correspondence: Dr B. Majeed, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Center for Global Health, 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA. (Email: bancomm2000@yahoo.com)