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Pastoralists exposed to tuberculosis

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th March 2001 03:00 AM

Makerere University's faculty of veterinary medicine and the Tuberculosis Control Centre will soon launch a joint research project on tuberculosis in the country to establish the prevalence of human TB in animals.

By Kikonyogo Ngatya Makerere University's faculty of veterinary medicine and the Tuberculosis Control Centre will soon launch a joint research project on tuberculosis in the country to establish the prevalence of human TB in animals. "We also want to establish the prevalence of animal TB in humans especially among different pastoral areas and what risks the people are exposed to," said Dr George Nasinyama, head of veterinary public health and preventive medicine department at the university. Nasinyama said that initial TB studies by his department around Lake Mburo pastoral area found between 18 to 26 % TB prevalence in cattle that can expose humans to high risks of contracting the disease through drinking raw milk of infected animals. It can also be got through living with the animals. TB is associated with fatigue, loss of weight and deep cough. It damages the lungs, which may lead to death. TB can be contracted if an infected person laughs, sneezes or coughs in the open air. Nasinyama said that in humans, the mycobacterium tuberculosis bacilli parasite causes the TB. A parasite called bovis causes bovine TB to animals. Both animals and humans could infect each other with TB. Dr Alphonse Okwera, the TBC director said that there was an increment in the number of people suffering from the disease in the country. He said that the number of people with TB had shot up from from 10,000 people in 1980 to over 32,000. Okwera said that the numbers are expected to be higher with the prevalence of a new deadly Multi Drug Resistance (MDR) TB strain in the country. The strain has arisen because most patients do not take the right dosage of drugs and at the right time. Three people were last month diagnosed with the strain at Mulago Hospital. He said that the new strain is spread like the ordinary one. It is however more aggressive and severely affects people with HIV/AIDS. MDR weakens the body immune system and gives opportunistic diseases a chance to weaken the body. "There is no holistic approach from the veterinary and human doctors in fighting TB in the country. We need to harmonise efforts and lobby for resource allocation as an entity because most animal diseases also affect humans,' Nasinyama said. Animal TB in humans also causes similar symptoms and is also associated with internal organ failures. Under the current arrangement, the TBC has divided the country into nine TB surveillance zones to ensure that TB patients take the right dosage. This treatment is referred to as Directly Observed Therapy. The new research project will allow neighbouring countries to strengthen disease surveillance networks in the region. Ends

Pastoralists exposed to tuberculosis

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