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Epidemiology of visceral leishmaniasis in Shebelle Zone of Somali Region, eastern Ethiopia

Alebie, Getachew, Worku, Amha, Yohannes, Siele, Urga, Befikadu, Hailu, Asrat, Tadesse, Dagimawie
Parasites & vectors 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 209
Acacia, Isoptera, Phlebotomus orientalis, Sergentomyia, children, confidence interval, domestic animals, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, epidemiological studies, females, humans, insect surveys, interviews, males, odds ratio, parasites, public health, questionnaires, risk, seroprevalence, termite mounds, trees, vector-borne diseases, visceral leishmaniasis, Ethiopia
BACKGROUND: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), a vector-borne disease caused by species of the L.donovani complex, has (re)-emerged in Ethiopia during the last two decades and is currently of increasing public health concern. However, very little is known about VL epidemiology in the Somali Region of Ethiopia. The aim of this study was to provide detailed epidemiological information on seroprevalence, associated factors and incriminated vectors of VL in Shebelle Zone and Ethiopian Somali Region in general. METHODS: A cross-sectional epidemiological study was conducted between March and May 2016 in Gode and Adadle districts of Shebelle Zone, Ethiopian Somali Region. Two-stage semi-random sampling was applied for selecting study participants for the field survey. The study included structured questionnaire interviews, serological assays (rK39-immunochromatographic test), ELISA and entomological surveys. RESULTS: From a total of 361 participants, 57 (15.8%) were seropositive for VL including 46 (12.7%) rK39 positive and 11 (3.0%) positive by both rK39 and ELISA. VL seroprevalence was higher (P < 0.001) in Adadle (31.1%) compared to Gode (12.7%) district. The VL seroprevalence rate was higher in females than in males [rK39 (17.2 vs 14.0%) and ELISA (3.4 vs 2.5%)]. Children under the 15 years of age were the most highly affected group [rK39 (20.4%) and ELISA (4.4%)]. Increased VL risk was associated with presence of termite hills, study district, outdoor sleeping, Acacia trees and domestic animals [odds ratio (95% confidence interval): 12.58 (5.911–26.763), 5.40 (2.90–10.07), 5.31 (2.283–12.364), 2.37 (1.1190–4.728) and 0.199 (0.097–0.410), respectively]. The entomological survey identified 74 Phlebotomus [P. (Larroussius) orientalis (52/74), P. (Anaphlebotomus) rodhaini (14/74), P. (Paraphlebotomus) sergenti (8/74)] and 11 Sergentomyia sand flies. The average frequency of P. orientalis (3.06 ± 0.66) collected by all traps per night was higher than that of other species. The average frequency of total and specific (P. orientalis) female sand flies was higher in Adadle (1.89 ± 0.423 vs 1.11 ± 0.309) than in Gode (0.62 ± 0.324 vs 0.38 ± 0.183) district. The highest mean numbers of total (8 ± 1.5) and P. orientalis (6 ± 0.913) sand flies were collected in termite hills. CONCLUSIONS: The present findings revealed potential new VL-transmission foci in the study districts. Therefore, the need for parasitological and molecular characterization of the parasite in humans and vector sand flies is of paramount importance to confirm transmission.