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Zoonotic impact and epidemiological changes of leishmaniasis in Ethiopia

Dawit Gebremichael


Leishmaniasis is one of the growing public health challenges in Ethiopia and estimated over 7,000 and 50,000 new cases of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) per year, respectively. The aim of the review is to address zoonotic impact and epidemiological changes of leishmaniasis in Ethiopia. VL is caused by L. donovani and it is endemic in many parts of the country with one third of the country’s landmass is highly suitable for VL. CL is principally caused by L. aethiopica. CL is endemic and widespread in the highland of Ethiopia. Northern lowland foci are Humera and Metema plains in the Tigray and Amhara regional states constitute the main VL endemic areas in the country, contributing over 60% of the total burden. The southern foci are the south-western savannah, and the south-eastern semi-arid lowlands which account for approximately 20 % of the total VL burden in Ethiopia. Leishmaniasis is a serious zoonotic disease in Ethiopia with more reservoir hosts maintaining the disease. Dogs and hyraxes are the main reservoir hosts for visceral and cutaneous leishmaniasis in the country, respectively. Epidemiological changes of leishmaniasis may relate to environmental changes and expansion of mega projects such as irrigations and sugar cane factories, knowledge and socio-economic factors, development of new settlements, migration of peoples and HIV/AIDS co-infection. Expansions of mega projects such as sugar factories and irrigations are suitable for reproduction of stray dogs, rodents, wild canids and vectors. VL is one of the major challenges to prevent and control in the endemic areas of the country. Therefore, new research should be imperative, especially in the mega projects to design strategic control and prevention methods.

Keywords: Environmental change, Epidemiological change, Leishmaniasis, Reservoir hosts, Zoonotic
AJOL African Journals Online