Neglected Tropical Diseases: Causes, Symptoms, Preventive Measures, and Treatment

Neglected Tropical Diseases are diseases of the impoverished group in the society, affecting the majority of the population, causing serious changes which include loss of livelihood, disfigurement, stigma, disability, and poverty. The survey shows that about 100 million Nigerians are affected by Neglected Tropical Diseases [NTDs].

Neglected Tropical Diseases

To tackle this issue, the Nigerian government has introduced a programme (Neglected tropical disease control programme) aiming at improving the quality of life and social economic development of the people through reduction of disease, disability, and mortality due to Neglected Tropical Diseases to a level where they are no longer diseases of public health importance.

Below are some of the important things you need to know about the neglected tropical diseases (causes, preventive measures, and treatment) that were made available by the world health organization through the federal government.

River Blindness

What is river blindness?

River blindness is a disease caused by filarial worm Onchocerca volvulus. The larvae of the parasite later migrate into the eye then cause blindness.

How is river blindness spread?

It can be transmitted from one person to another by the bite of an affected black fly.

What are the signs and symptoms of river blindness?

Signs and symptoms of river blindness include:

  • Painless noodles under the skin. 
  • Constant itching of the body.
  • White patches on the legs like that of leopard skin. 
  • Fever, headache and hard skin. 
  • Partial blindness which later developed to total blindness.

Treatment for River Blindness

River blindness can be treated and prevented through free Mectizan distribution for treatment and prevention of river blindness.

Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis)

What is Elephantiasis? 

Elephantiasis is a disease caused by Wuchereria Bancrofti. It’s one of the neglected tropical diseases which can be transmitted through the bite of an affected female Anopheles or Culex mosquito species. It usually takes many years for symptoms of the disease to show.

What are the signs and symptoms of Filariasis?

The following are the most likely early signs and symptoms of Filariasis [Elephantiasis]:

  • Fever, headache, pain in the muscle.
  • Swollen of legs i.e. Elephantiasis.
  • Swollen of the arm, scrotum (hydrocele) and vulva in women.
  • The skin also becomes thickened and rough.

What are the preventive measures of Lymphatic Filariasis?

  • Keep your surrounding clean off brushes.
  • Cover all water containers containers
  • Spray houses with insecticide.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bite by using Long Lasting Insecticide Net(LLIN).

Treatment for Elephantiasis & Hydrocele

  1. Take Mectizan +Albendazole, they are available in every community to be distributed for treatment and prevention of Lymphatic Filariasis aka Elephantiasis.
  2. Visit any the clinic nearest to you for free medication and further instructions.

For some people asking if these diseases are preventable, yeah!

The good news is that these diseases are preventable and timely intervention is the key. So no one should overlook the efficiency of Mectizan and Albendazole, they are free medicine available at every community through the community-directed distributors (CDDs) and PHC clinic in every community.

Prevention is better than cure so go and get yours today to protect yourself from neglected tropical diseases in Nigeria.

Credit: KOGI STATE MINISTRY OF HEALTH, NTDs UNIT, through Neglected Tropical Disease Control Programme (NTDs) August 2018.

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