Mosquito-borne diseases are common high-impact diseases in tropical and subtropical areas. However, other non-mosquito vector-borne pathogens oftentimes cause diseases with the same geographic distribution, seasonality, and clinical manifestations, thereby contributing their share to the morbidity and mortality caused by febrile illnesses in these regions. The purpose of the publication was to prepare a comprehensive literature review in order to identify knowledge gaps about tick, flea-, and louse-borne diseases of veterinary and public health significance in Nigeria.
[Photo: Dr. Maria Eremeeva]
Georgia Southern’s analysis confirmed that Nigeria, as in many other countries in tropical and subtropical regions, is likely to have a broad spectrum of pathogens and diseases transmitted by various ectoparasites. However, these diseases are generally overlooked due to insufficient public health and veterinary resources, the instability of the political environment, and the many widespread health crises in the region. There is ample scientific evidence for the presence of a variety of ticks, fleas, and lice in Nigeria, the sine qua non for transmission of the vector-borne diseases they carry. Unfortunately, precise information about the incidence and prevalence of specific diseases transmitted by each of these vectors among sylvatic and domestic animals, and to people is very limited; this information is essential to drive the flow of additional domestic and international resources to address these challenges. Early investigations in Nigeria were primarily focused on the veterinary and economic impacts of these ectoparasites, while the more recent work utilizing more advanced molecular methods has provided more accurate and agent-specific data on the magnitude and complexity of the circulation of multiple non-mosquito vector-borne pathogens in Nigeria.
From a bird’s eye view, the publication provides an essential baseline summary of the scientific knowledge obtained to date in Nigeria about its non-mosquito vector-borne pathogens. It is hoped that it will stimulate improvements in the surveillance of the veterinary and human non-mosquito diseases occurring in Nigeria. Due to increasing recognition of these diseases in other African countries, veterinary and public health professionals in Nigeria should expand the list of possible diseases considered in patients presenting with fevers of unknown etiologies.
Georgia Southern MPH students Mr. Oluwaseun Oguntomole and Mr. Ugochukwu Nwaeze worked collaboratively on the study with their faculty mentor, Dr. Marina Eremeeva. Mr. Oguntomole, who was trained as a physician in Nigeria, states that this project was an excellent learning experience and an eye-opener with respect to the diagnosis and management of vector-borne diseases especially in rural areas.
Dr. Eremeeva adds that addressing these diseases will contribute to numerous positive public health outcomes. Previous observations in other tropical counties, such as Sri Lanka, have clearly demonstrated that including rickettsial diseases in the list of differential diagnoses for febrile illnesses improved patients’ outcomes. This improvement was due to enhanced physician recognition of these diseases and implementation of earlier correct treatments leading to faster recovery and release of patients from the hospital and a reduction in associated medical costs.
“Tick-, Flea-, and Louse-Borne Diseases of Public Health and Veterinary Significance in Nigeria,” was recently published in Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease.