Farming practices and Trypanosomiasis in Northern Uganda: an assessment of Trypanosomiasis prevalence and the ongoing management of vector borne infections
Miller, Liam David
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African trypanosomiasis is a parasitic infection caused by a number of species of the genus Trypanosoma. The disease, in various forms, affects wildlife, livestock and humans and is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. There are two forms of human African trypanosomiasis, each caused by a different species of Trypanosoma; the acute form (rHAT) and the chronic form (gHAT). Overlap of the two forms would complicate treatment. Trypanosomiasis in cattle is known as African animal trypanosomiasis (AAT) and the effects of AAT cause significant economic damage as meat and milk production are reduced and cattle become too weak to pull ploughs. Cattle can also carry T. b. rhodesiense. Uganda is affected by both rHAT and gHAT but the diseases do not occur in the same area of the country however the distance between the rHAT and gHAT-areas has decreased in recent years. This study investigates the prevalence of AAT in northern Uganda and the ways in which farmers are attempting to control the disease in their cattle. Prevalence of AAT in the study district was found to be low, with only 2.61% cattle infected. Local breeds of cattle were to be less likely to be infected than European breeds. Farmers in the area are generally not treating their animals for AAT and are not spraying their cattle with insecticides that kill tsetse flies. The AAT situation in northern Uganda is currently stable but there are a number of current and future developments that threaten the status quo. Increased prevalence of AAT in cattle and overlap of areas affected by the two forms of HAT could have severe impacts on the economic security and health of the rural population of Uganda. Monitoring the evolving situation is of great importance.