Magazine article UN Chronicle

A Veterinarian's Fight against Leishmaniasis. (Two Million New Cases Each Year)

Magazine article UN Chronicle

A Veterinarian's Fight against Leishmaniasis. (Two Million New Cases Each Year)

Article excerpt

Even though the world's diverse nations had united more than half a century ago, the pace of dissemination of technology is crawling. Today, a word can echo all around the universe through satellites, yet a simple parasitic disease goes untreated in most areas of the world. Global population is on the rise, as are poverty and a deadly disfiguring disease--leishmaniasis--which affects humans and dogs and is transmitted by the bite of hematophagous sandflies (phlebotomies, owl midges).

According to the Journal of Clinical Microbiology (May 2002), two million new human cases occur each year and at least 350 million people are exposed to the risk of leishmania parasite infection. Now veterinarians not only treat animal diseases but have also become effective sensors to alarm health authorities in order to save the lives of animals as well as humans. Rabies, tuberculosis, Escherichia coli (E. coil) and leishmaniasis are common diseases that veterinarians diagnose and then alert health officials.

In existence for a very long time, leishmaniasis is still affecting many children worldwide, particularly in Pakistan. I have alerted medical professionals that there still is a great reservoir for leishmaniasis of protozoa parasites among dogs, cats, rodents and ground squirrels. Little or no attention however has been given to this disease, especially in remote areas of Sindh, Pakistan, where people are the victims of chronic poverty.

The World Health Organization (WHO) appointed a handful of people to handle an enormous and rapidly growing number of leishmaniasis victims. The disease in some cases is said to be self-limiting, yet a sequela to the devastating disfiguration of faces and limbs. A large number of victims still live in places with dirt roads and in dwellings without running water or electricity. Many world bodies and international and non-governmental organizations are working to cope with this disease.

Dogs are kept in villages not as pets but for guarding livestock, policing property and signalling intrusion by a stranger. The majority of dogs in Pakistan are scavengers, living on garbage, bones and discarded food.

Dogs and cats have a large body volume compared to rodents and squirrels, and hence are easy targets for sandflies to take a meal and then transmit the disease to children. …

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