The Carter Center congratulates Nasarawa and Plateau states for becoming the first Nigerian states to stop transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF), a parasitic disease most commonly known for causing elephantiasis, according to a Carter Center press release June 13.

“Nasarawa’s and Plateau’s achievement, stopping transmission of lymphatic filariasis in two states of Nigeria, Africa’s most endemic country, demonstrates that eradication is possible and more than 1 billion people can be protected from this debilitating disease forever,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center, which has supported the two Nigerian state governments since 1999 in their effort to prove that LF can be wiped out using currently available tools.

 

The Carter Center congratulates Nasarawa and Plateau states for becoming the first Nigerian states to stop transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF), a parasitic disease most commonly known for causing elephantiasis, according to a Carter Center press release June 13.

“Nasarawa’s and Plateau’s achievement, stopping transmission of lymphatic filariasis in two states of Nigeria, Africa’s most endemic country, demonstrates that eradication is possible and more than 1 billion people can be protected from this debilitating disease forever,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, founder of The Carter Center, which has supported the two Nigerian state governments since 1999 in their effort to prove that LF can be wiped out using currently available tools.

Nasarawa and Plateau stopped transmission of LF by distributing a combination of oral drug treatment of Ivermectin, donated by Merck, and Albendazole, donated by GlaxoSmithKline annually, and by distributing long-lasting insecticidal bed nets, donated by the Clarke Cares Foundation/Clarke Mosquito Control and Vestergaard Frandsen. Both states also provided community-based health education, including teaching improved hygiene techniques to prevent the bacterial infections associated with advanced LF symptoms.

The announcement that transmission had been stopped in the two adjacent central Nigerian states was made after assessment surveys administered with the help of The Carter Center confirmed the prevalence of LF was low enough to ensure the disease could no longer be transmitted. Once transmission is judged to have been interrupted, mass drug administration can be halted. Thanks to the success in Nasarawa and Plateau, the program has been given the green light to expand into other parts of Nigeria, where The Carter Center will help bundle health services to combat LF, river blindness, and Schistosomiasis using an integrated drug treatment approach.

Community leaders, local ministry of health personnel, and the community members played a crucial role in Nasarawa’s and Plateau’s pioneering success, in which more than 33 million drug treatments and nearly 9.4 million nets have been distributed since Carter Center support began in 1999. Net distribution started as a way to protect pregnant women and children who were not eligible for drug treatment, but was expanded to cover entire endemic communities as a part of Nigeria’s decision to distribute bed nets to all.

The Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health declared that mass drug administration for LF could be stopped in both states in 2013, and post-treatment surveillance could start. After a three-year surveillance period, the program will conduct a follow-up transmission assessment survey to prove the disease is gone. River blindness (Onchocerciasis) is co-endemic with LF in several parts of Nigeria. As such, The Carter Center is still providing Ivermectin drug treatment for river blindness in 12 of the 30 local government areas in Nasarawa and Plateau with the aim of eliminating the disease in these states by 2020.

LF is one of only seven diseases that the Carter Center’s International Task Force for Disease Eradication has named as potentially eradicable. A pioneer in eradication and elimination, The Carter Center spearheads the international campaign to eradicate Guinea worm disease, leads the campaign to eliminate river blindness in the Americas and four African countries, and advocates to rid the island of Hispaniola of malaria and LF. In 2009, The Carter Center expanded its work in Ethiopia to take on LF in 20 districts in support of that country’s goal of eliminating LF by 2020.

LF is a parasitic infection that, in Africa, is usually spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit malaria. The disease causes swelling of limbs (lymphoedema and elephantiasis) and genital organs (scrotal hydrocele), and painful recurrent attacks of acute fever and inflamed lymph vessels (Adenolymphangitis). Considered a neglected tropical disease, LF almost exclusively affects the world’s poorest people. Approximately one fifth of the world’s population (1.3 billion people) is at risk of contracting LF and approximately 120 million people in 83 countries are currently infected. Worldwide, Nigeria has the third most people at risk of contracting the disease, behind only India and Indonesia.

Culled from The Global Dispatch

 

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Plateau and Nasarawa states stop the transmission of lymphatic filariasis, Carter Center congratulates the achievement (VIDEO)

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