Crippling disease back with a vengeance
HYDERABAD: Hundreds of people in Dadu district are being disfigured by a painful parasitic disease leishmaniasis as a consequence of the renewed multiplication of the sandfly which carries the parasite.
Lack of proper treatment facilities by health department authorities aggravated the situation in the talukas of Mehar and Johi, which are particularly under attack by the sandfly, which has about 30 species. The insect also transmits the disease to animals through its bite.
The sandfly can become infected when taking a blood meal from a reservoir host. The hosts are infected humans, wild animals such as rodents, and domestic animals, such as dogs. Most leishmaniases are zoonotic (transmitted to humans from animals), and humans become infected only when accidentally exposed to the natural transmission cycle. However, in the anthroponotic forms (those transmitted from human to human through the sandfly vector), humans are the sole reservoir host.
The tiny sand-coloured blood-feeding flies breed in forest areas, caves, or the burrows of small rodents.
Leishmaniasis presents itself in humans in four different forms with a broad range of clinical manifestations. All forms can have devastating consequences.
Health department officials said the disease arrived in district Dadu from Afghanistan, where it exists for years. Occurring in several forms, the disease is generally recognized for its cutaneous form, which causes non-fatal, disfiguring lesions, although epidemics of the potentially fatal visceral form cause thousands of deaths. The disease can produce large numbers of skin ulcers, as many as 200 in some cases, on the exposed parts of the body, such as the face, arms and legs, causing serious disability and leaving the patient permanently scarred. ”I witness several people that include women and children visiting hospitals and basic health units in Johi with the bad injuries on their faces, arms, chest, legs and other parts of the body but unfortunately there is no remedy available there at the hospitals,” said Nisar Khokhar, a journalist who recently visited the areas under attack of the disease in Dadu district.
He said health department authorities did not take immediate effort to contain the disease. “Most of the victims of the disease lived in the remote villages of the district but neither have any mobile teams been sent there for the treatment by the health department nor were public hospitals and rural health centres provided with the medicine needed for its treatment,” said Khokhar.
Unofficial reports said there were more than 200 victims of the disease only in Mehar taluka. In Johi the number was reportedly far higher.
The disease had attacked Dadu, Khairpur and other districts in 2001, leaving many of its victims disfigured and scarred. Reports said health department officials were engaged in the three-day anti-polio campaign and were less interested in countering the new epidemic.
Thevaccine available in the market is very expensive, so most victims resort to traditional therapies that include ineffective herbal cures, or to amulets (Taweez).