This issue contains recent studies and resources on several WASH-related diseases: cholera, dengue, diarrhea, leptospirosis, neglected tropical diseases, malnutrition, and typhoid. Included are a just-published UNICEF cholera toolkit, an updated review of WASH-related diseases from DfID, typhoid case studies from Bangladesh and Fiji, and other resources.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested the topic for this issue, and we welcome other suggestions for topics. Future issues will focus on menstrual hygiene management, innovation, water point mapping, mobile applications, and WASH in schools; more than 100 past issues of the Weekly are archived on the WASHplus website.
As urban sprawl spreads throughout the globe, so do poor urban ghettos and the infectious diseases that are perpetrated by unsanitary slum conditions. Weill Cornell researchers stationed in the urban slums of Salvador, Brazil, have discovered that certain unhealthy living conditions lead to transmission of leptospirosis, a life-threatening disease caused by the bacterium Leptospira. Over a half-million people are infected, killing 1 in 10, each year. The disease, which is characterized by fever, abdominal pain, and can lead to severe pulmonary bleeding, kidney damage and meningitis, is transmitted through animal contact (commonly rat urine).
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Leptospirosis, a life-threatening zoonotic disease, has become an important urban slum health problem. Epidemics of leptospirosis now occur in cities throughout the developing world, as the growth of slum settlements has produced conditions for rat-borne transmission of this disease. In this prevalence survey of more than 3,000 residents from a favela slum community in Brazil, Geographical Information System (GIS) and modeling approaches identified specific deficiencies in the sanitation infrastructure of slum environments-open sewers, refuse, and inadequate floodwater drainage-that serve as sources for Leptospira transmission. In addition to the environmental attributes of the slum environment, low socioeconomic status was found to independently contribute to the risk of infection. These findings indicate that effective prevention of leptospirosis will need to address the social factors that produce unequal health outcomes among slum residents, in addition to improving sanitation.
Citation: Reis RB, Ribeiro GS, Felzemburgh RDM, Santana FS, Mohr S, et al. (2008) Impact of Environment and Social Gradient on Leptospira Infection in Urban Slums. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2(4): e228. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000228
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