Study: Fever, chills, And Muscle Pain Could Be Signs Of Leptospirosis

Fever, chills, and muscle pain aren’t the symptoms just of malaria

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A herdsman walks his cattle as they graze in Naivasha, Kenya, Feb. 15, 2018.
A herdsman walks his cattle as they graze in Naivasha, Kenya, Feb. 15, 2018. VOA

Fever, chills, and muscle pain aren’t the symptoms just of malaria. They could be signs of leptospirosis, which infects millions of people each year — primarily in tropical regions.

The under-reported disease is usually spread though contact with rodents, but a new study finds this trend may not hold in northern Tanzania or beyond.

Research in Asia has tied living in close quarters with rats to outbreaks of leptospirosis. The bacterial infection causes symptoms that are often mistaken for malaria. Severe cases can be life-threatening, says Professor Albert Ko at the Yale School of Public Health.

“Our group has done global burden of disease studies on this and there are over a million a cases a year and roughly 60 thousand deaths,” said Ko.

Common source of fevers

Leptospirosis is becoming recognized as a common source of fevers in Africa. But the source of the disease was unclear. It could be rats, or it could be something else, said Michael Maze, of the University of Otago.

“Well, we know that leptospirosis has many possible animal hosts,” said Maze. “I guess the story starts when we identified how common leptospirosis was the cause of severe fever in people coming to the hospital in northern Tanzania.”

Maze and an international team of researchers asked those patients about their lifestyles: how many rats they saw around their home… whether they owned livestock and if so, what kind?

They also tested blood samples for leptospirosis infections. Of the nearly 900 people tested, almost a third were infected, or had been.

The researchers also trapped almost 400 rats in nearby villages. They tested the rodents to see if they carried the leptospira bacterium like their Asian cousins. They did not.

But cattle did — they found over seven percent of them carried up to four types of leptospira that could potentially infect humans. Goats and sheep did, too, though less often.

cow
cow, Pixabay

Blood samples match

This result matched the findings from the patients’ blood samples. People who owned livestock were most likely to have leptospirosis infections, especially cattle owners.

“Leptospirosis is carried in the renal tract — so the kidney and the bladder — and comes out in the urine of infected animals,” said Maze. “So even simple things like avoiding urine while doing activities such as, for example, milking cattle would be a good first step.”

Maze recommends abattoir workers and dairy farmers wear gloves and other protective clothing.

“A cow is much bigger and it produces a much larger volume of urine and so that creates a greater opportunity for exposure,” said Maze.

But Maze and colleagues found doctors did not diagnose a single one of the patients in the study with leptospirosis. In fact, one in four active cases was misdiagnosed as malaria — even though the patients’ blood tested negative for parasites.

Symptoms similar

Maze says one reason is because symptoms of the two diseases are similar and there is not an accurate, simple test for leptospirosis that can be run in regional hospitals.

“The second reason is that clinician awareness of these diseases is low,” said Maze. “If you don’t recognize them it becomes a cycle where they’re never diagnosed so you never recognize them.”

Yale’s Albert Ko says the work Maze and his colleagues have done provides a better understanding of how leptospirosis spreads.

Also read: The outbreak of Leptospirosis with monsoon: Symptoms and precautions

“This is an important study specifically because it provides key information on risk factors in a high burden setting, said Ko. “In specifically among this at-risk population of vulnerable pastoralist society.” (VOA)

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Know About the Importance of Iron in Blood

Can Iron worsen Malaria infection? Find it out here

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blood
The body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells, if it lacks the required quantity of iron. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Iron is an essential mineral for most of organisms. The body cannot make enough healthy red blood cells, if it lacks the required quantity of iron. The lack of red blood cells is called iron deficiency anemia.

Dr Niti Kautish, Senior consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Fortis Escorts Hospital, Faridabad, sheds light on the importance or iron.

It is an important component of hemoglobin and helps in transporting oxygen throughout the body. But at the same time an excess iron can also be very dangerous. It promotes the formation of damaging oxidative radicals. This can also deposit in organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas which can lead to conditions like cirrhosis, heart failure and diabetes. Since both iron deficiency and high concentration of iron can compromise cellular function, the levels of in the cells must be regulated precisely.

blood
Malaria parasites feed on iron in blood. (Representational Image). Pixabay

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This can be well studied in the case of malaria. Malaria infections are a major global cause of anemia. The relationship between malaria and iron is often debated. It has been a subject of discussion in the global health community since 2006, ever since a large-scale trial on the island of Pemba discovered that iron supplementation in children related to the rise in malaria-related mortality.

Through the study conducted by National Institute of Health (NIH), let us further understand the relationship between iron and malaria; and how iron worsens malaria infection:

Malaria parasites feed on iron. Organisms have a protein called ferroprotein, which prevents toxic buildup of iron in RBC. It also protects the cells against malaria infection. By studying mice and samples from malaria patients, researchers found out that high concentration of iron interferes with ferroprotein.Fe

The researchers observed that lack of ferroprotein in erythroid cells (red blood cells and their precursors) allowed iron to accumulate to toxic levels inside RBCs. The mice with intact ferroprotein were more stable, had less parasites and better outcomes as compared to the mice that lacked ferroprotein.

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It was also observed that a hormone called hepcidin regulates ferroprotein in red blood cells and their precursors. The hormone is more abundant in high iron concentration and lowers the ferroprotein level. It also prevents iron from being removed from the cells.

blood
The lack of red blood cells is called iron deficiency anemia. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The researchers also studied if the ferroprotein mutation Q248H, which is found in African population protects against malaria.

After studying children hospitalized for malaria in Zambia, it was observed that nearly 20 percent of the children who had the mutation, had fewer malarial parasites and tolerated fewer for longer period before visiting the hospital. The results stated that the mutation protects ferroprotein from hepcidin’s effects, and thus protects against malaria. This further explains the presence of mutation in the people living in malaria endemic regions.

Also Read- Here’s What You Should Tell Your Kids About Coronavirus

In another study on 290 pregnant women in Ghana, it was observed that the 9 percent, who had the ferroprotein mutation Q248H, were comparatively less prone to pregnancy associated malaria, in which malaria parasites cause adverse pregnancy and birth outcomes by accumulating in the placenta. (IANS)

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Shortage of Anti-Malarial Drugs Due to Usage in COVID-19 Treatment

Doctors Warn of Malaria Drug Scarcity

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Malaria COVID-19
Limited global stocks of two anti-malarial drugs could wreck plans to use the medicines, currently in clinical trials, to treat COVID-19. Pixabay

Limited global stocks of two anti-malarial drugs could wreck plans to use the medicines, currently in clinical trials, to treat COVID-19, doctors cautioned on Thursday. This is the latest health news.

Around the world, countries are expanding access to chloroquine (CQ) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), which are used to treat malaria and are known to have anti-viral properties.

The medicines have shown early promise against the COVID-19 illness in studies in France and China.

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CQ, which is the less toxic of the two, is also used as an anti-inflammatory to treat conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, purposes it is primarily known for outside the tropics.

Writing in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, doctors in Italy — the country hardest hit by COVID-19 — said that limited supply could scupper any widespread attempt to use the two drugs against the virus.

Malaria COVID-19
Researchers at the Microbiology Research Facility work with coronavirus samples as a trial begins to see whether malaria treatment hydroxychloroquine can prevent or reduce the severity of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. VOA

“In some European countries the availability of HCQ and CQ in the pharmacies (outside the hospitals) is already scarce,” Francesca Romana Spinelli, assistant professor at the Sapienza University of Rome and letter author, told AFP.

“This is an emerging problem for many patients already treated with CQ/HCQ for their autoimmune rheumatic disease.”

Both medicines are known to have anti-viral properties and have shown some encouraging results in trials against COVID-19.

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But they have a number of potentially serious side effects, and there are fears that treating COVID-19 patients, many of whom are on medication for underlying conditions, could court disaster.

On Wednesday the European Medicine Agency warned that CQ and HCQ should only be used on COVID-19 patients in clinical trials or in case of a “national emergency”.

 

Also Read- Virus of Hatred and Insanity Wreaking Havoc With the Preventive Measures in India

In the letter, Italian doctors said using CQ and HCQ as widespread COVID-19 treatments would raise ethical concerns, given their known side effects.

“If mass prophylaxis was accepted as an option worldwide, this would raise the question of whether there is enough supply of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to support this approach,” they added. (VOA)

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20% Malaria Risk in Deforestation Hot Spots: Study

Deforestation for coffee production ups malaria risk

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Malaria deforestation
Researchers have estimated that 20 per cent of the malaria risk in deforestation hot spots is driven by the international trade of exports. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of an Indian-origin, have estimated that 20 per cent of the malaria risk in deforestation hot spots is driven by the international trade of exports including coffee, cocoa, palm oil, tobacco, beef and cotton.

Previous studies have shown deforestation and rainforest disturbances can increase the transmission of malaria by creating conditions where mosquitoes thrive: warmer habitats and fewer predators. “What does this mean for affluent consumers?” asks study senior author Professor Manfred Lenzen, from the University of Sydney in Australia.

“We need to be more mindful of our consumption and procurement, and avoid buying from sources implicated with deforestation, and support sustainable land ownership in developing countries,” Lenzen said.

According to the researchers, directing consumption away from deforestation has benefits beyond the malaria link; it will help reducing biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions as well. For the findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, the research team investigated links between the increasing risk of malaria in developing countries to products demanded by distant consumers.

Malaria deforestation
Deforestation and rainforest disturbances can increase the transmission of malaria by creating conditions where mosquitoes thrive. Pixabay

“This study is the first to assess the role of global consumption in increasing deforestation and, in turn, malaria risk. Unsustainable human consumption is clearly driving this trend,” said Indian-origin researcher and study co-author Dr Arunima Malik from the University of Sydney in Australia.

“We achieved this by quantitatively relating malaria incidence first with deforestation, then to primary commodity production, which we then connected to global supply-chain networks and ultimately to worldwide consumer demand,” Malik said. The final step was accomplished by coupling a highly detailed and large international database with an established and widely used analytical technique – multi-region input-output (MRIO) analysis, the study said.

Also Read- Being Overweight Increases Risk of Developing Advanced Prostate Cancer: Study

“This work goes beyond simple incidence mapping and correlations, in that it unveils a global supply-chain network that links malaria occurring in specific locations because of deforestation with globally dispersed consumption,” Malik said. The results of the study can be used for more demand-side approaches to mitigating malaria incidence by focusing on regulating malaria-impacted global supply chains, the researchers said.

Demand-side initiatives such as product labelling and certification, supply-chain dialogue and green procurement standards have been successful in addressing trade-related global problems such as threats to species and child labour. (IANS)