Leishmaniasis in Chad
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- There is an outbreak of visceral leishmaniasis in Chad.
- The parasite is spread through bites from sand flies.
- To prevent leishmaniasis, avoid sand fly bites.
Leishmaniasis is a parasitic disease that is spread to people when they are bitten by sand flies.
There are several forms of leishmaniasis in people. The most common forms are cutaneous and visceral. Cutaneous leishmaniasis causes skin sores, while visceral leishmaniasis affects several internal organs (usually the spleen, liver, and bone marrow).
Symptoms of visceral leishmaniases include fever and weight loss and typically appear within weeks to months (sometimes years) after being bitten. Some infections may be asymptomatic.
What is the current situation?
In January 2018, Chad began reporting cases of visceral leishmaniasis in N’Djamena, Borkou, and Tibesti provinces. Recently, cases have increased, prompting the Ministry of Health and National Solidarity to activate a National Coordination team to strengthen surveillance, increase the capacity of health care workers, and provide drugs and rapid diagnostic tests to provincial hospitals.
Who is at risk?
The risk of infection for most travelers is low. Travelers at highest risk for infection are long-term travelers, expatriates, adventure tourists, immigrants, refugees, missionaries, and humanitarian workers.
What can travelers do to prevent leishmaniasis?
There are no vaccines or medicines that prevent leishmaniasis. CDC advises travelers to affected areas in Chad take the following steps to prevent sand fly bites:
- Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats. Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents).
- Avoid outdoor activities, especially from dusk to dawn, when sand flies generally are the most active.
- Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms. Use bed nets treated with long-lasting insecticides. Keep in mind that sand flies are much smaller than mosquitoes and therefore can get through smaller holes in screens.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD), or 2-undecanone. Find an EPA-registered insect repellent that’s right for you and use it safely and effectively.
- Spray dwellings with residual-action insecticides.
If you get sick during or after travel
- If you feel sick during travel and have a fever, seek medical care immediately.
- If you get sick after returning to the United States, talk to a healthcare provider and tell them about your travel. Avoid contact with other people while you are sick.
- Health Information for Travelers to Chad (CDC)
- Leishmaniasis and Travelers
- CDC Leishmaniasis Website
- Visceral leishmaniasis in CDC Yellow Book (Health Information for International Travel)