Dar es Salaam. Good morning! The Chanzo is here with a rundown of major news stories reported in Tanzania on Monday, July 18, 2022.
Leptospirosis behind nosebleeding, deaths in southern regions, minister says
After days of investigations, experts have finally been able to name the mysterious disease that was causing tension in Tanzania’s southern regions, whose victims reported nosebleeding before falling down.
Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu on Monday named the disease leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals, caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the CDC, the disease is spread through the urine of infected animals, which can get into water or soil and can survive there for weeks to months. Many different kinds of wild and domestic animals carry the bacterium, the agency says.
Monday’s revelation comes after the disease has claimed the lives of at least three people from the Ruangwa district, Lindi region, with at least other thirteen people reported to have contracted the disease.
First reported on July 12, 2022, by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the disease has sent shock waves across the globe, especially due to the fact that its symptoms – nosebleeding – resemble those of Ebola, a deadly disease affecting both human and nonhuman primates.
Since it was first reported, a team of experts – both from the Health Ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO) – has been working on the ground to find out what was exactly ailing the people in the regions.
On Monday, Ms Mwalimu, who doubles as Tanga Urban MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM) toured the Ruangwa district in Lindi, where the investigation was taking place, and it was where she made the revelation from.
The revelation itself comes a day after the government declined requests from foreign governments and organisations to have the specimens for the disease tested outside the country, saying it was capable of carrying out its own investigations.
“There have been reports requesting our specimens and want them to be tested outside the country,” Mwalimu said Saturday during a function in Kilimanjaro. “We have the equipment and experts to detect communicable diseases in our country.”
According to the CDC, Leptospirosis’ symptoms include high fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and rash.
The agency explains on its website that some of these symptoms may be mistaken for other diseases, with some infected persons may have no symptoms at all.
According to the agency, without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, which is inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.
Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline or penicillin, which should be given early in the course of the disease, the organisation explains.
Mwalimu urged citizens to take deliberate measures to prevent themselves from the disease, including by touching water or substances dirted by animals’ urine. She urged citizens to make sure they drink only safe-drinking water.
Tanzania, FAO team up to respond to the outbreak of Quelea quelea birds
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said on Tuesday that it is providing Tanzania with half a million US dollars to support its efforts to control Quelea quelea birds that are currently reported to ravage rice, sorghum, millet and wheat fields in eight regions in the country’s southern highlands, central and lake zones.
The average quelea bird eats around 10 grams of grain per day, a statement by FAO said Tuesday, so a flock of two million can devour as much as 20 tons of grain in a single day. With an estimated adult breeding population of at least 1.5 billion, the agency added.
There are currently an estimated 21 million red-billed (Quelea quelea) birds in the affected regions, and the FAO support is expected to help the government in its efforts in the urgent ground and aerial spray operations, surveillance and capacity building in alternative methods for controlling Quelea quelea in affected areas.
“The current outbreak has proven elusive to the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture in Tanzania due to the unprecedented populations of Quelea quelea birds,” a statement quoted Musa Chidinda, Coordinator of the Quelea quelea control operations in the Ministry of Agriculture as saying. “FAO’s timely intervention will significantly improve our chances to curb the outbreak and save farmers’ crops.”
FAO fears that without the support, the outbreak will worsen the vulnerable farming households’ food and nutrition insecurity already threatened by other crises and disasters such as COVID-19 and inflation brought about by the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war.
“The immediate goal is to significantly reduce the population of Quelea quelea birds in affected regions so that they don’t cause more damage to the farmers’ crops,” said Tipo Nyabenyi Tito, FAO Representative in Tanzania. “The resources are needed to put up effective early warning systems as well as community-based Integrated Pest Management approaches.”
Egypt-Tanzania trade exchange grew by 36.3pc in 2021, official says
Trade exchange between Egypt and Tanzania amounted to $51.4 million in 2021, rising by 36.3 per cent from $37.7 million in 2020, the Egyptian press reported Tuesday, quoting the Head of the Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS) Yahya El-Wathik Bellah.
Egyptian exports to Tanzania notably grew last year to $47.9 million, compared to around $34.7 million in 2020, El-Wathik Bellah added.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s imports from the East African country stood at $3.5 million in 2021, he added.
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