• Emergence or re-emergence of visceral leishmaniasis in areas of Somalia, north-eastern Kenya, and south-eastern Ethiopia in 2000-01.

      Marlet, M V L; Sang, D K; Ritmeijer, K; Muga, R O; Onsongo, J; Davidson, R N; Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland, Max Euweplein, EA Amsterdam, The Netherlands. mvlmarlet@hetnet.nl (Elsevier, 2008-01-31)
      Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) was known to be endemic in Somalia along the basins of the (Middle) Shebelle and (Lower) Juba rivers, and in Kenya in parts of the Rift Valley, on the border with Uganda and the Eastern Provinces. From May 2000 to August 2001, we diagnosed 904 patients with VL. The patients came from an area which spanned the Wajir and Mandera districts of north-eastern Kenya, southern Somalia, and south-eastern Ethiopia. Small numbers of patients were also seen in northern Somalia. These areas were either previously non-endemic for VL, or had only sporadic cases prior to the epidemic. We describe the features of the outbreak and review the history of VL in the region. Unusual rainfall patterns, malnutrition, and migration of a Leishmania-infected population seeking food and security may have contributed to this outbreak.
    • A neglected disease of humans: a new focus of visceral leishmaniasis in Bakool, Somalia.

      Marlet, M V L; Wuillaume, F; Jacquet, D; Quispe, K W; Dujardin, J C; Boelaert, M; Médecins sans Frontières, Dupréstraat 94, B-1090 Brussels, Belgium. (Elsevier, 2008-02-07)
      Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) was observed in children in Bakool region, Somalia, an area where VL has not been reported before. We describe the extent of the problem in this war- and famine-stricken area. A retrospective analysis was done of all cases admitted to a VL treatment centre between July 2000 and August 2001. Patients with longstanding fever, splenomegaly and a positive direct agglutination test (DAT; titre > 1:3200) were treated as suspected VL cases. A rapid epidemiological and entomological assessment was performed in the area. Species identification was attempted from blood samples by polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of cysteine proteinase B genes. In 1 year, 230 serologically-positive cases were diagnosed as VL, and response to therapy was good in 91.6% of the 225 treated with sodium stibogluconate. Parasitological confirmation was attempted and obtained in 2 cases. Parasites were found to be most similar to Sudanese and Ethiopian reference strains of the Leishmania donovani complex. In a serological survey of 161 healthy displaced persons, 15% were positive by the leishmanin skin test and 3 (2%) were positive by the DAT. The sandfly captures showed Phlebotomus martini and P. vansomerenae. VL seems to be a longstanding and serious health problem in Bakool region. Food insecurity might have contributed to the emergence and detection of VL in this area.