Nope, this isn't the plot of a new horror movie. A  flesh-eating parasite, once thought to only exist in tropical areas, has become an endemic in Texas.

The skin sores caused by the parasite, (leishmaniasis), are the result of being bitten by a bug I've never heard of.

Female phlebotomine sandflies are the culprits here, (don't ask me how to tell if a phlebotomine sandfly is female), as their bite transmits the flesh eating nasties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), says leishmaniasis is caused by "protozoan parasites" and some forms of it can be fatal.

There are 3 main forms of leishmaniases: visceral (the most serious form because it is almost always fatal without treatment), cutaneous (the most common, usually causing skin ulcers), and mucocutaneous (affecting mouth, nose and throat). -

The skin sores caused by leishmania typically show up long after after a person is bitten, can last for years and eventually cause major scarring. (and I thought these guys were bad.)

Here's what the CDC says to minimize your risk of being bitten:

... avoid outdoor activities, to the extent possible, especially from dusk to dawn when sand flies are the most active; wear protective clothing and apply insect repellent to exposed skin and under the edges of clothing (e.g., shirt sleeves, pant legs) according to the manufacturer’s instructions; and sleep in air-conditioned or well-screened areas. Spraying sleeping quarters with insecticide might provide some protection, and fans or ventilators might inhibit the movement of sand flies, which are weak fliers.

To learn more, go to or visit

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