A village in Gilgil, Nakuru County has been ravaged by the deadly cutaneous leishmaniasis disease which is caused by the sandflies, and they are appealing to the government to come to their aid.
An area Community Health Volunteer, Joseph Kigutu said almost all the residents who live near Utut and Eburu forest in Gilgil sub-county are affected by the disease.
Kigutu told KNA there has been a lot of interest in the area from Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and other health NGOs, but all they seem to be interested in was just research and none goes back to assist in the eradication of the disease.
The disease which is popularly known in the area as ‘’Utut’’ manifests itself in a lesion or a small wound on the skin but it keeps on widening with the infected person feeling itchy and scratching continuously.
“This incurable disease starts as a pimple with some rashes and after about two weeks the pimple bursts and a wound starts and it keeps on widening as the days go by leaving nasty features on the skin. In most cases it affects the face and that reduces the self-esteem of the infected people,’’ he said.
He said in the past people who were affected by the diseases were considered cursed but an NGO trained them and they realized that it’s caused by the sandflies which are prevalent in the area.
He added that in each family two to three people were affected and that was mainly because they depend on the forest for firewood and pasture and yet inside the forests there are many rocky hyrax where the sandflies, which cause the disease live.
However, a researcher from KEMRI, Dr. Philip Ngumbi said as much as the disease was a nuisance it was difficult to eradicate it due to the natural existence of Rock Hyrax in the area.
“These sandflies lay around 80 to 100 eggs and they are known as pull feeders because after pinching the skin with their saw-like-teeth, to feed on the blood, they spread the parasite particularly on the face because it is exposed,’’ he stated.
Dr. Ngumbi said Leishmaniasis is one of the neglected diseases and the rich drug manufacturers were not determined to find its cure as it affects only a few people and especially those extremely poor.
To avoid the disease, he advised residents to use mosquito nets and wear long sleeved clothes.
By Peter Kariuki/Veronica Bosibori