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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1989 Mar-Apr;83(2):243-7.

Pastoralists and hydatid disease: an ultrasound scanning prevalence survey in east Africa.

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Swiss Tropical Institute Field Laboratory.


An attempt was made to estimate the prevalence of hydatid disease in nomadic pastoralists living in eastern Africa and to identify environmental, cultural and behavioural factors which may influence Echinococcus transmission. 18,565 nomadic pastoralists, from 12 different groups living in the vast, semi-desert regions of Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tanzania, were screened for hydatid cysts using a portable ultrasound scanner. High prevalences of hydatidosis were recorded among the north-western (5.6%) and north-eastern (2.1%) Turkana of north-west Kenya, the Toposa (3.2%) of southern Sudan, the Nyangatom (2.2%), Hamar (0.5%) and Boran (1.8%) of south-west Ethiopia and northern Kenya and the Maasai (1.0%) of Tanzania. Lower prevalences were recorded amongst the southern (0.3%) and lake dwelling (0.3%) Turkana and the Pokot (0.1%) of Kenya. The disease was not found amongst the Turkana, Samburu, Dassanetch, Gabbra, Somali or Rendille screened on the east side of Lake Turkana. The scanning surveys were well accepted by the people and provided evidence for the need to expand the present hydatid control programme in Turkana to cover the whole hyperendemic focus. Such a programme must contain an educational component for, although most groups recognized hydatid cysts, there was complete lack of knowledge concerning the parasite and its mode of transmission.

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