The Centre for Infectious Diseases is working with Makerere University in Uganda to stamp out sleeping sickness.
Tsetse fly-borne sleeping sickness is a major problem in Africa, killing thousands of people each year. The disease also affects animals, such as cattle.
The University team - led by Sue Welburn, Professor of Medical and Veterinary Molecular Epidemiology - is studying the spread of the disease by flies, and the role livestock plays in providing a ‘reservoir’ for the sickness.
It has developed tools to determine whether infected animals can pass on their sleeping sickness to humans.
There are two forms of sleeping sickness: a long-lasting form found mainly in the north of Uganda, and a rapid form that occurs in the southern regions.
The areas in which the two different forms of the diseases are rapidly converging, potentially creating new health problems in Uganda.
Professor Welburn’s team is working with the Ugandan Government and Makerere University to treat up to 500,000 animals to prevent further infections, and hopes to apply the project to other African countries.
As well as working on sleeping sickness, the University also collaborates with Makerere University in running an online Masters course and offering an exchange programme for doctoral and postdoctoral training.
We have reduced the reservoir of infection in animals by 75 per cent, effectively preventing transmission in an entire district. This is probably the first time that a disease has been controlled by a third party intervening in cattle.
Prof Sue Welburn
Professor of Medical and Veterinary Molecular Epidemiology
This article was published on Jun 26, 2010