Nigeria loses an estimated $70m yearly to sleeping sickness and as such, the Federal Governments should strive to eradicate tsetse flies and transpanomiases (T and T) that transmit the disease. A professor of Veterinary Public Health at the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Dr. Arunsi Ukairo Kalu, stated this yesterday in Umuahia, the state capital. Kalu said this while delivering the 30th inaugural lecture of the University with the theme: Eliminating the Scourge of Nagana/Sleeping Sickness Complex for Improved Animal Productivity and Public Health. He cautioned that if the challenge was not resolved early enough, agricultural and livestock production would suffer unprecedented setback.
He said the $70m annual loss was as a result of infections in bovines in six states of the North, adding this was besides expenses incurred on trypanocides.Kalu noted that trypanosomiases comprises complex diseases of man, domestic animals, wildlife and fauna and is caused by flagellate haemoprotozoan parasite of the genus Trypanosomiasis. He explained that the disease results from the bite of infected tsetse-fly (genus Glossina), while sucking blood from susceptible hosts. “The Trypanosomiases occur when the agent is transmitted from infected susceptible host to another susceptible host by the bite of the vector in an environment where the latter exits,” he added. According to him, the presence of tsetse flies in Nigeria has continued to have its toll on the national herd by reducing its population and the contribution of the livestock and agricultural sector just as it affects people’s living standards and public health. He cited a year 2000 World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which stated that more than 60 million people lived with risk of becoming infected with sleeping sickness globally and that out of 500,000 infected, 50,000 die annually. “Out of an estimated 165 million cattle on the African continent, only 10 million are within the tsetse belts while in Nigeria, 75 per cent of the landmass in all agriculture-ecological zones are tsetse flies-infested except the Plateau of Jos, Mambilla and Adamawa,” the report stated. Meanwhile, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has activated its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to coordinate responses to Lassa fever outbreak. The centre, which has deployed Rapid Response Teams to Ebonyi, Ondo and Edo states, would support the affected states to coordinate, trace contacts, manage communication risks and strengthen prevention and control practices. Chief Executive Officer of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, said in a statement that emergency supplies have been sent to treatment centres in the affected states. However, following its concerns over the outbreak of the disease in Imo State, the government yesterday said it would commence the fumigation of streets in the cities and their environs. A statement by the General Manager of the Imo State Environmental Commission (ENTRACO), Jeff Nwoha, urged the residents to show understanding with the commission, noting that the measure was in their best interest. Governor Rochas Okorocha and Commissioner for Health, Dr. Angela Uwakwe, had last week confirmed the death of three persons from Lassa fever, while seven patients were quarantined in isolated centres.