Detection of Cutaneous Leishmaniasis Foci in South Ethiopia

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  • 1 Department of Public Health, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia;
  • 2 Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium;
  • 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium;
  • 4 Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia;
  • 5 Department of Haematology, Arba Minch General Hospital, Arba Minch, Ethiopia;
  • 6 School of Medicine, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia;
  • 7 Biology Department, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia;
  • 8 Global Health Institute, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium

Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a major public health problem in Ethiopia. The disease is endemic in Ochollo, a village in southern Ethiopia, but there are no reports of CL in the wider area, although it is ecologically very similar. We conducted a rapid assessment survey in the South Ethiopian Rift Valley and found 100 parasitologically confirmed CL cases in 38 villages not reported endemic for CL. Approximately half of the cases were children (57%), and most lesions occurred on the face (78%) and were older than 6 months (77%). Only 2% of the people was aware of the mode of transmission, and 9% sought modern treatment at a hospital. These preliminary data indicate that CL is much more widespread than previously reported and that the disease might have a large psychosocial impact. Hence, this study calls for larger surveys across the Ethiopian highlands. Additionally, health education and treatment capacity need to be implemented.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Behailu Merdekios, Arba Minch University, Nech Sar Campus, POB 21, Arba Minch, Ethiopia. E-mail: merdekib@tcd.ie

Financial support: This study was financially supported by VLIR-UOS through the Inter University Cooperation (IUC) agreement with Arba Minch University (AMU ET2017IUC035A101).

Disclosure: The authors declare no competing interest.

Authors’ addresses: Behailu Merdekios, Department of Public Health, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia, E-mail: medekib@tcd.ie. Myrthe Pareyn, Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium, and Clinical Sciences Department, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, E-mail: myrthepareyn@itg.be. Dagimawie Tadesse, Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia, E-mail: dagimtad13@gmail.com. Solomon Getu, Department of Hematology, Arba Minch General Hospital, Arba Minch, Ethiopia, E-mail: solgtad23@yahoo.com. Bereket Admassu, School of Medicine, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia, E-mail: bereketadmasu00@gmail.com. Nigatu Girma, Biology Department, Arba Minch University, Arba Minch, Ethiopia, E-mail: nigatu.girma2000@gmail.com. Herwig Leirs, Evolutionary Ecology Group, University of Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium, E-mail: herwig.leirs@uantwerpen.be. Jean-Pierre Van geertruyden, Global Health Institute, University of Antwerp, Gouverneur Kinsbergencentrum, Wilrijk, Belgium, E-mail: jean-pierre.vangeertruyden@uantwerpen.be. Johan van Griensven, Clinical Sciences Department, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, E-mail: jvangriensven@itg.be.

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