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Uganda Reports Failure To Contain Sleeping Sickness

The African country of Uganda reports that all the efforts to curb he disease of sleeping sickness is not working. The report on this topic was reported in this week’s issue of The Lancet.

The epidemic of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense sleeping // sickness in eastern Uganda began in 1998 as a result of the movement of the livestock reservoir of the parasite and has continued to spread. Interventions to control the disease were put in place between January 2000 and December 2003 and consisted of mass treatment of livestock with long-acting drugs to kill the parasite. In this study Eric Fevre from University of Edinburgh, Scotland and colleagues had looked at the prevalence of human infective T b rhodesiensein the cattle population of three villages in the Soroti district of Uganda, which had the intervention, and three where there had been no intervention. They found that there was no significant difference in the prevalence of the parasite in the villages with the intervention and those without it.

The investigators also report that since the first cases of sleeping sickness in 1998, 428 new cases were diagnosed in the Sorotic district over a 5-year period, and an additional 300 may have gone undiagnosed.

Dr Fevre states: “To be effective, mass treatment interventions need to cover enough of the livestock population to prevent the transmission of parasites to tsetse. Similarly, effective tsetse control must reduce vector challenge sufficiently to effect transmission to human beings . . . As livestock movements results in the spread of T b rhodesiense, controlling such movements or treating livestock before movement is a matter of urgency . . . Outbreaks of T b rhodesiense in new areas are conceptually straightforward to prevent with effective veterinary interventions but, once established, very difficult to control.”

Source: Newswise, The Lance
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