elephantiasis

Ten million Zambians are at risk of contracting elephantiasis, Health Minister Dr Joseph Kasonde has said.

Dr Kasonde said the mapping that was done by his ministry revealed that the parasites that cause elephantiasis were present in 85 districts. He said Kalabo in western province had the highest percentage of the parasite.

In a ministerial statement on elephantiasis delivered in Parliament yesterday, Dr Kasonde said the ministry started mass administration of drugs to eradicate and prevent spread of the disease after the mapping was done.

The minister said some districts have passed the target for the people to be treated while other districts are still undergoing the ‘immunisation’ process. He said Government and cooperating partners started the mass administration of the drugs on 8 June 2015 and will run upto 2 July 2015.

He said the Government has started controlling and eliminating the parasite that causes elephantiasis and that the government is in line to meet the 2020 target of eliminating elephantiasis.

10 per cent of Kitwe’s population has the elephantiasis parasite, according to district health officer Dr Chikafuna Banda. Dr Banda said having 10 per cent of the district’s population with elephantiasis was too big a number to be ignored as the disease was dangerous.

Elephantiasis is a parasitic infection that causes extreme swelling in the arms,legs or groin. It is typically characterized by a thickening of the skin and subcutaneous tissue that leads to enlarged and swollen limbs. The condition is medically called lymphatic filariasis. It is caused by a worm that disturbs the flow of fluids in the legs and private parts leaving victims with swollen body parts.

While the infection is usually acquired in childhood, its visible manifestations occur later in life, causing temporary or permanent disability. In endemic countries, lymphatic filariasis has a major social and economic impact

The worm is transmitted by the female mosquito which also transmits the malaria parasite.When a mosquito bites a person who has lymphatic filariasis, microscopic worms circulating in the person’s blood enter and infect the mosquito. If the infected mosquito bites another person, they can then get lymphatic filariasis. The microscopic worms pass from the mosquito through the skin, and travel to the lymph vessels. In the lymph vessels they grow into adults. An adult worm lives for about 7 years. The adult worms mate and release millions of microscopic worms into the blood. Once a person has the worms in their blood, when a mosquito bites, the mosquito can transmit the disease to yet another person.

A person needs many mosquito bites over several months to years to get lymphatic filariasis. People living or staying for a long time in tropical or sub-tropical areas where the disease is common are at the greatest risk for infection. Short-term tourists have a very low risk. An infection will show up on a blood test.

Response to the on-going drug administration exercise against elephantiasis in Ndola has been overwhelming, a survey has revealed.At three public health institutions, more than 50,000 people had accessed preventive medication against the disease.

The eradication program involves treating the disease it is not a vaccine or preventative in any way.The drugs used are Albendazole and Ivermectin.These drugs will kill any worm infestations.Transmission of the infection can be broken when a single dose of these combined oral medicines is consistently maintained annually for a duration of four to six years.

The strategy for eliminating transmission of lymphatic filariasis is mass distribution of medicines that kill the microfilariae and stop transmission of the parasite by mosquitoes in endemic communities. With consistent treatment, and since the disease needs a human host, the reduction of microfilariae means the disease will not be transmitted, the adult worms will die out, and the cycle will be broken.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. This is as stoopid as getting circumcised to prevent HIV. How many people do you know who have elephantiasis? When was the last time you saw somebody with elephantiasis? These people are chaos mongers and must be busy making money out of this scam. Do they have a large consignment of drugs to sell to GRZ using Eurobonds? #MonkeysInTheMaizeField#

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    • You are a danger whoever you are.

      The government needs to account for everyone, and all those entering the country need treatment.

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    • Last time I read about how the whites want to reduce the birth rate in african countries. Hope this not one way of reducing our population, ndeloleshafya because I have never seen an elephant patient before

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  2. This is CIA propaganda, hatched by the opposition. Do not believe it guys. Part of their attempt to destabilise out prosperous government.

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  3. its the CIA sterilizing you dumb africans…why now all of a sudden has it become an issue? smh

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  4. elimination of the mosquito is the best way to solve the problem. The exercise is just like reassuring a patient.

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  5. Female mosquitos at it again!!!!Utu tudoyo nitwamasalamuzi nditu. I am told there is massive immunisation going on in lamba land already: lufwanyama, Kalulushi etc. As for me I care what is pumped into my body and won’t buy this spread of ……..From the Western World

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  6. Zambians and Africans in general have no capacity to eliminate the mosquito. They have to wait for Americans and Europeans to do it for them. Do African scientists deserve the title? No wonder some racist whites believe that black people are a retrograde human species.

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  7. Well spoken BUCK TEETH LUNGU, they thought they would make money out of EBOLA but by the grace of God it was never there in Zambia. Now they want to make money out of this elephantisis issue, next time they will tell the nation there is an outbreak of leprosy.

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  8. But 10 million people is the whole population of the country.

    In Mansa, Mporokoso and Kasama, this disease is common in the adult population of people whole like beer and women, particularly those on castle, Mosi and castle Lite. Its also common “Mumaladies abapoka ifyupo”

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    • You are right. 10m out of 14m Zambians are exposed but not a single patient in sight! What are Zambian doctors smoking? Have they been stealing morphine from their pharmacies and walking around like zombies spitting senseless statistics? Education has no value if it cannot help you think through the most obvious issues in life.

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  9. Well this is very alarming and there is no need to alarm the nation in this manner. We all understand that the problem is the mosquitoes and there are already measures to protect ourselves from mosquito bites. Therefore, we just need to step the same measure already in place to fight Malaria which spread in the similar manner. The minister should not rushed to make such pronouncement as this is retrogressive and people get this kinda information with a lot of doubts. I would urge people to instead put more measures to up measures in their townships to get rid of mosquitoes instead.

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  10. But ba Minister, are you sure the whole population of the country is at risk of getting infected within this period? This is absurd, not even aids is that close! So, all of us should all stay in homes and not go for work, school etc for fear of getting the disease. Nonsense, arrest him!

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  11. This is terrible propaganda. I have been Zambia most of my adult life but I have never seen anyone with this new curse of elephantiasis. The minister should be educated enough not to alarm the nation. Now visitors or tourists will be scared to come to Zambia. How can the whole nation be at risk?some of this is just caused by witchcraft

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  12. So, everyone in Zambia will have elephantiasis? Terrible alarm, you guys should be arrested for conduct like to elephantise all Zambians.

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  13. The message is clear: with elephantiasis on the rampage, power blackouts coming three times a day in all areas, Zambia is now a no-go area for foreigners and tourists. We should just barricade the country until 2016 elections when hopefully a new govt will be able to run the country.

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  14. Based on this article, Zambia will only have about 3 million wl elemphatitis free Citizens…..Wow ! What a bunch of BS.

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  15. Even if I was the most foolish on earth I wouldn’t fall for that crap, woke up zambians let’s not be used as guinea pigs

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