Cutaneous Leishmaniasis: AMU mulls over research findings

In a daylong workshop AMU’s Community Service Directorate has presented different research findings on neglected tropical disease – Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, wherein both vector control and interventional outcomes ascertained as to how it gets transmitted by sand flies and how victims’ sufferings can be mitigated. All the findings hint at comprehensive research to be done to address this social menace. Click here to see the pictures

The program got off with Community Service Directorate Director, Dr Teklu Wegayehu, giving overview of the program. The Research and Community Service Vice President, Dr Simon Shibru, addressing the gathering reminded that in order to address this neglected disease, we have to train focus on effective interventional strategy so that this issue should no longer remain neglected anymore.

AMU’s PhD Scholar, Mr Behailu Merdikios, who looked into epidemiology of disease, said, according to World Health Organization globally 1 Billion are affected who are below poverty-line. In Ethiopia, study in this regard. is not properly done and prevalence is yet to be fully known or quantified; yet 20,000 to 50,000 cases are said to be annually reported.

He said adding that Gonder and South Ochello are endemic areas and death caused by it is insignificant; that’s why it’s among the neglected. He adds in Ethiopia we just empirically use some drug but till date we don’t have proved medicine to treat the disease. Basically, the causative agent in Ethiopia is different therefore the disease is termed as - leishmaniasis aethiopica.

While, College of Natural Sciences Dean, Dr Fekadu Massebo, sharing his finding on vector control in Ochello kebele, Chencha, said, focusing on sand flies’ behavior, I found them to be active from dusk to dawn and substantial numbers of them are active both inside and outdoor. Especially, those residing close to cave are more susceptible, yet we need more evidences. However, based on what we have, we recommend use of bed-net usage and spray of insecticide; and we need guidelines for policy makers to formulate interventional strategy, he added.

University of Antwerp’s PhD student, Ms Myrthe Pareyn, who is associated with Institutional University Cooperation Project, doing vector control research on cutaneous leishmaniasis in Ochello, said, my objective is to probe transmission dynamics and I found vector present in dry season; most of sand flies reside in caves and 60% of them feed on human blood and 10% on hyraxes. Vectors are more active in early evening and pose greater risks. Actually, humans play bigger role in disease transmission.

On remedial measure, she adds, medicine (pentamidine & amphotericin B) is available, but it’s expensive. People do take traditional medicine and may get cured in six months but the disease leaves permanent scar on them which causes stigma for female victims in the society.

She revealed that mid highlands of Ethiopia are more endemic and now she is investigating the disease’s prevalence because she hopes problem to be bigger than expected. Elevation plays great role in sand flies’ breeding, altitude between 1800 to 2700 meters are apt as they get perfect temperature and humidity to survive and cause potential infection to human beings, she averred.

AMU officials, various research scholars, residents from endemic areas and other different stakeholders were in attendance.

(Corporate Communication Directorate)