21 August 2016

Tanzania: Fear Grips Over Alien Disease Carried By Rats


In many countries fever is the most common reason for hospital attendance.

Treatment has often been based on the assumption that most of these patients have malaria, but recent studies conducted by Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) have discovered another type of disease known as Leptospirosis transmitted by rats where its symptoms are almost the same as malaria.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals.

The Bacteria of the genus Leptospira cause it. In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases like malaria or even viruses. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all.

Leptospirosis is a neglected zoonotic disease of worldwide public health importance. The disease affects humans, domestic animals and wildlife. However, Leptospirosis poses a serious challenge in its diagnosis in humans.

Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) has planned to educate publics, health providers and medical personnel, among others on the new disease that affects many people in the country.

According to Cambridge English Dictionary Rats is a small rodent, larger than a mouse that has a long tail and is considered to be harmful. A rodent resembles a large mouse, typically having a pointed snout and a long, sparsely haired tail.

Some kinds have become cosmopolitan and are sometimes responsible for transmitting diseases, say some experts. The disease also called Weil's disease is a bacterium that many rats carry without showing symptoms of infection.

Humans become infected when contaminated rat urine or feces comes in contact with mucous membranes. In a recently interview, SUA Researcher Fellow Dr Geogies Mgode said that 20 per cent of people who have fever, which they think is malaria they have Leptospirosis disease which has no treatment and not known even to the health providers.

"The diasease is incurable in the country and in Africa continent. We planned to create awareness to the people and health providers on the disease that affect many people especially rice farmers who use the water for irrigation.

Dr Mgode said that the symptoms of the disease include headache, fever, vomiting, rash and muscle aches. Some people can become infected and show very few symptoms, while Leptospirosis can be fatal in others. SUA Department of Pest Management Centre has conducted a research on Leptospirosis disease for twenty-three years.

"On our research we discovered that the disease exists most in domestic animal such as cow, goat, cat, ship, dog among others," he said.

He pointed out that after establishing the disease, SUA has solicited funds from the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) that will be used in providing education and to find more about the disease in all regions in the country.

"Awareness of this disease is also generally lacking among health providers, medical personnel and the general public including high-risk populations such as abattoir workers and animal handlers," Dr Mgode observed.

He however, reported that the cure of this new disease has not discovered in Tanzania and in African continent where it affects many people in the continent.

He called upon government and other health stakeholders to see the importance of finding treatment of the disease and to educate people on how to prevent it for the benefit of everyone.

He also explained the ways and means that would help to create awareness of the disease and to find the treatment of the diseases. "We have planned to educate people, health providers and health personnel across the country on the disease that many of them may be mistaken as other disease like malaria.

The symptoms of Leptospirosis disease is the same as malaria that lead many people to take the treatment of Malaria. He added that a joint effort is needed in order to create awareness to the public and health providers on the disease.

Leptospirosis is an understudied zoonotic disease in Tanzania and across Africa.

Limited reports show a high prevalence of Leptospirosis in animals and humans with Africa presenting a major burden globally The report indicates that the highest median annual incidence of leptospirosis is in Africa standing at 95.5 per 100,000 people.

Africa is followed by Western Pacific (66.4), the Americas (12.5), South-East Asia (4.8) and Europe (0.5) In Africa; leptospirosis has been reported in almost all geographic zones. Despite its high burden, leptospirosis is not routinely diagnosed in African hospitals Dr Mgode said in his report.

In Tanzania, leptospirosis is widely reported in wild small mam-mals, domestic animals and humans According to the researcher, awareness of this disease is still lacking and there is an urgent quest for gathering sufficient data on leptospirosis for promoting awareness.

However, leptospirosis is highly neglected and not extensively taught in both medical and veterinary sc Apart from Leptospirosis, other diseases transmitted by rats are Salmonellosis, Rat-Bite Fever and Plague.

Wild rats and domestic rats, both can carry many types of diseases that are transmitted to humans, wild rats present a greater danger since their environment is not controlled.

Domestic rats purchased from a responsible source, which monitors their rats closely and tests for diseases, pose less of a threat than those from an unknown source or in the wild.

It important to be aware of the potential risk of diseases carried by rats, since the the Humane Society of the United States notes that, aside from mosquitoes, rats carry more diseases that can be transmitted to humans than almost any other living thing.


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