Home Health Prof. Mugisha: Surveillance Key in Curbing Vector, Tick Borne Diseases

Prof. Mugisha: Surveillance Key in Curbing Vector, Tick Borne Diseases

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Prof. Lawrence Mugisha from Makerere College of Veterinary Medicine has revealed that proper Surveillance is key in curbing down vector and tick borne diseases.

Prof. Mugisha said that most of the animals in Uganda are exposed to Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) currently which poses a huge risk to humans if much surveillance isn’t imposed.

He made these remarks at the dissemination workshop of the interdisciplinary approach addressing ticks and tick-borne diseases of cattle in Uganda at Makerere University in Kampala on Monday.

According to Prof. Lawrence, this virus is within us, its case fertility of in humans is currently at 30-40% and a few cases of hemorrhagic fever have been registered in the country.

“If the Surveillance of CCHF is limited, most cases go un reported which causes limited attention paid to this deadly disease yet this fever is a public health problem which can even lead to restriction of tourists in the country” Prof. Lawrence asserted.

For the last five years, a team of researchers from Makerere University and across the world embarked on a research dubbed PREPARE4VBD a study that generated new knowledge on diversity of tick species, new viruses of ticks and also highlighting the public implications they cause. 

Ticks are the most important vectors of disease-causing pathogens in domestic and wild animals, and tick-borne diseases are a major threat to both cattle and human health. According to researchers, understanding the complex interactions within the micro-biome is of great importance of understanding how tick-borne pathogens spread and cause disease.

Results of this research study that was conducted from 5 districts across the country indicated that a total of 15 tick species continue to dominate tick distribution in the country and a total of 32 CCHF human cases aged between 9 to 68 years were detected in Uganda between the year 2013 to 2019.

The study further identified that 8 viruses belonging to 4 families and 6 genera were found among 175 studied cattle and also found that 12.6% and 75.0% CCHF virus seropositivity among the studied cattle was associated with geographical location, increasing age, being female and a higher tick burden. 

In his remarks, Dr. Stephen Balinadi also a researcher on this project noted that the role of ticks in human disease is observed lately and the picture is likely to increase.

According to Balinadi, a quick intervention is needed if this problem is to be curbed and this can be done through effective tick control methods.

“The Government needs to put a lot of efforts in the way of controlling ticks in the country plus also sensitizing the public that ticks can also cause diseases in humans too” Balinadi emphasized.

He also noted that throughout their research, they encountered technological challenges as some of their studies needed advanced technologies and yet the machines and resources used are not in the country.

This study also involved researchers from Sweden, South Africa USA and Australia and each one of them provided some aspect of resource around technology.

The research’s key recommendations highlighted the need for a multidisciplinary approach in control and management of ticks and their associated zoonotic diseases in Uganda plus also further research to better understand the distribution, diversity and ecology of ticks and tick-borne diseases in Uganda as well as the risk factors and transmission dynamics of these diseases.

With the threat being more visible recently, the research highlighted urgent interventions to address Tick and Tick-borne diseases that included improved surveillance and control measures, more funding and support for tick-borne disease research and control programs, development of community-based tick control strategies that incorporate local knowledge and a one health approach that considers the interactions between human, animal and environment.

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