Infectious diseases and war conflicts in the Middle East

  • Shibl A
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Infectious diseases and war have been witnessed for as long as human life. Historically, infectious diseases have been responsible for the majority of deaths during war; however, numerous medical and military advances have reversed this trend, resulting in more deaths from battle than infectious diseases in the 20th century. Wounds incurred in war are grossly contaminated with bacteria and most will become infected unless appropriate treatment is initiated quickly.Common infections include respiratory as well as gastrointestinal infections. Endemic diseases are also reported during the war and they include Brucella, Q-fever, Malaria, Sandfly fever and Leishmaniasis. Non-battle injuries such as mental and combat stress are common; while battle associated infections such as trauma- related complications are extensively reported. Multidrug resistances (MDR) Gram negative bacilli have been reported in war wound infections, particularly Acinetobacter spp, Enterobacter spp.and Pseudomonas spp. And therefore empirical treatment for infected war wounds should be given to cover MDR. Other war related infections such as malaria, MDR tuberculosis, chronic Q fever and brucellosis may become apparent after returning home and therefore they should be considered due to their lengthy reactivation periods. In addition to this, vaccines have proven to be an important breakthrough to help prevent the spread of several infectious diseases. War wounds are predisposed to infection due to environmental conditions on the battlefield, devitalized tissue, and foreign bodies in the wound as well as delays in evacuating causalities. Knowledge of likely pathogens for particular infections and sites, as well as optimal antibiotics to eradicate those pathogens will aid battlefield healthcare providers in averting and treating infections appropriately.




Shibl, A. (2010). Infectious diseases and war conflicts in the Middle East. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 14, e16–e17.

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