A NEGLECTED OLD DISEASE IN A NEW FOCUS: EPIDEMIC OF VISCERAL LEISHMANIASIS

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Abstract


Objective: to describe the clinical and epidemiological features, treatment measures and the case fatality rate of patients with visceral leishmaniasis (vl) in libo-kemkem woreda.

Methods: Retrospective descriptive analysis of demographic and epidemiologic data from patients with visceral Leishmaniasis diagnosed and treated in Addis Zemen health center and outreach sites at Libo-kemkem Woreda North West Ethiopia from may 2005 to January 2006.

Results: Two hundred twelve deaths which occurred before the epidemic of visceral Leishmaniasis proper got confirmed were believed to have died due to Kala-azar (KA). Those deaths which occurred before the epidemic was actually confirmed and the 1292 patients diagnosed and treated for KA were included in the study. The age of patients ranged from 5 months to 60 years whilst the mean age was 18 years. Of the 1292 patients who were diagnosed and treated at the health center, 25.3 % were female and 58% came from Bura kebele of Libokemkem Woreda. Associated infections were diagnosed in 10.9 % of the admitted patients. Patients were treated with Sodium Stibogluconate (SSG). The death rate was 3.8%. The documented main immediate causes of death are associated infections like tuberculosis with respiratory failure and sepsis.

Conclusions: We have to be aware that Kala azar is expanding its horizon and is becoming a serious public health problem, therefore it is necessary to empower health workers on early recognition and appropriate management of visceral Leishmaniasis and its complications. More importantly, appropriate laboratory kits and drugs must be available in selected areas to early diagnose and treat patients. Control measures must be intensified to curve the rising epidemic.

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