Leishmaniasis Occurrence in Cameroon Reported

Leishmaniasis outbreak has been reported by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) of Cameroon in the middle of February. Cases of rash syndrome and acute fever of unknown cause were being reported from North and Far North regions of Cameroon.

Skin rash, malnutrition, persistent fever, anemia, adenopathy and hepato-splenomegaly are the main clinical manifestations of the illness. Laboratory findings provided by the Centre Pasteur of Cameroon revealed that this illness was caused by cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Between January 2016 and March 24, 2017, an exposition investigation signified that 48 cases with similar clinical characteristics including 17 deaths had been recorded.  These cases initially came from Bourha, Mokolo, Hina, Mogode, Maroua 3 and Soulede Roua health districts in the Far North region and Mayo-Oulo health district in the North region of Cameroon where humanitarian crisis is happening.

Out of the 48 cases, 36 had no recognized epidemiological associations, opposing contact contamination as a method of transmission. Currently hospitalized are six cases in Mokolo district hospital.

Leishmaniasis is a ailment caused by the parasites called protozoan Leishmania that are stretch through the bites of infected female sandflies. The illness is connected with population displacement, malnutrition, a weak immune system, poor housing, and poverty. These factors are prevailing in the North and Far North regions of Cameroon.

Apparently, the outbreak of the disease in Cameroon has been occurring since January 2017 even before, but the detection and confirmation took several weeks because of some factors such as weak monitoring system especially for a deserted tropical diseases like leishmaniasis, shortage of basic medicines and supplies for treatment, insufficient laboratory diagnostic capacity and useful specimen transportation system, not enough numbers of trained health staff, and others.

Some parts of the contaminated areas are at the same time experiencing uncertainty with poor communication to the rest of Cameroon and inadequate coverage and ease of access to health services.

The Ministry of Public Health has requested assistance from a number of partners to come up with an effective feedback to this outbreak. WHO is shipping paromomycin, pentavalent antimonials, rapid diagnostic tests and supplies for testing the disease and case monitoring from its emergency stocks to Cameroon. An expert on the management of the said disease from WHO will also be deployed to work hand in hand with the Ministry of Public Health.

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