When the first cases were reported in Syria 275 years ago, it was called "the Aleppo boil" or "the Aleppo evil." And for good reason: The parasitic illness spread by sand flies causes nasty skin lesions that leave victims scarred for life physically and can leave emotional scars as well.
The disease, now known as Old World cutaneous leishmaniasis, or CL, is not unique to Syria. It's found in parts of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and southern Europe, according to the Centers for Disease Control. But ever since Syria's civil war started in 2011, what had been a persistent — but relatively controlled — nuisance has turned into a full-fledged outbreak.