Mobile workers in north Ethiopia vulnerable to visceral leishmaniasis transmission

Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a life-threatening disease transmitted by the bite of a sand fly. Between 3,700 to 7,400 people in Ethiopia are infected annually, particularly in the northern, agricultural regions with favorable climate and environment to sand fly vectors. A study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases by Rebecca Coulborn from Epicentre, France, and colleagues suggests that transitory populations in Ethiopia may be particularly vulnerable to acquisition of and death from VL infections.

Without treatment, VL is nearly always fatal and may increase risk of transmission to others. Using qualitative methods, researchers endeavored to learn more about mobile workers’ exposure to VL and obstacles to diagnosis and treatment. A sample of mobile workers, VL patients, community leaders and healthcare workers participated in focus groups and in-depth interviews to discuss VL in mobile worker populations, including questions regarding disease risk and healthcare access.

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