Friday September 21, 2018

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
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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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New Type of Bed Net Could Help Fight Against Malaria

The latest figures from the World Health Organisation shows that in 2016 malaria infected about 216 million people across 91 countries, up from five million in 2015

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Malaria
This new type of bed net can help prevent malaria: Lancet. (VOA)

Researchers have developed a new type of bed net with a specific combination of an insecticide and insect growth regulator that could prevent millions of cases of malaria.

The novel net, detailed in the journal The Lancet, contains a pyrethroid insecticide, which repels and kills the mosquitoes, and an insect growth regulator — pyriproxyfen — which shortens the lives of mosquitoes and reduces their ability to reproduce.

Compared to conventional nets, this new type of mosquito net reduced the number of cases of clinical malaria by 12 per cent.

In areas with new combination beds, there was also a 51 per cent reduction in risk of a malaria infective mosquito bite.

Children sleeping under the new bed nets were 52 per cent less likely to be moderately anaemic, which is a major cause of mortality in children under two years, the research showed.

Malaria
Compared to conventional nets, this new type of mosquito net reduced the number of cases of clinical malaria by 12 per cent. Pixabay

“This new invaluable tool would enable us to tackle more efficiently this terrible and deadly disease that affects many children. If deployed correctly, we could certainly prevent millions of cases and deaths of malaria,” said principal investigator Alfred B. Tiono, from the CNRFP in Africa.

For the study, the team conducted a two-year clinical trial in Burkina Faso, West Africa, involving 2,000 children, aged between six months and five years.

In the trial, the conventional bed nets were replaced over time with the new combination nets in 40 rural clusters covering 91 villages, involving 1,980 children in 2014 and 2,157 in 2015.

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The number of mosquito bites and incidence of clinical malaria in the participants were recorded by health clinics and the number of mosquitoes in the houses was tracked through monthly light traps.

The latest figures from the World Health Organisation shows that in 2016 malaria infected about 216 million people across 91 countries, up from five million in 2015. (IANS)