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Top Diseases in Morocco
Although modern in many respects, Morocco remains a traditional country that struggles to combat certain diseases. The country with a population of 33,680,000 has a life expectancy of 71, which is right at the world’s average. Although there are a good number of physicians and medical centers available, the rural population still experiences difficulty accessing these facilities and safe drinking water. Here are the top diseases in Morocco:

Hepatitis

Hepatitis A, B, C, and E are all prominent in Morocco, but currently, hepatitis A and B are the only forms that can be prevented through a vaccine or medication. Regardless of where you are staying or what food you are eating, there is a high possibility of obtaining hepatitis A in Morocco due to contaminated food and water. It is also transmitted through person-to-person contact.

Hepatitis B, which is transmitted via blood and bodily fluids, is another dangerous disease. Activities such as intercourse with the local population, intravenous drug use, contaminated tattoo and piercing equipment or exposure to blood may yield hepatitis B. Symptoms usually include nausea, fatigue, dark urine, abdominal pain and jaundice.

Hepatitis C is a viral infection that inflames the liver. This form of hepatitis is similar to the others because it can be transmitted person to person and through activities that expose one to blood and other bodily fluids.

Hepatitis E is extremely endemic in Morocco and also inflames the liver. Water contaminated with fecal matter and foods that contain raw or undercooked meats, may result in exposure to hepatitis E.

Rabies

Rabies, which is found everywhere, is another prominent disease in Morocco. One can obtain rabies through mammal bites, especially from dogs, cats and bats.

Typhoid

Common in areas with poor sanitation, Typhoid Fever is a gastrointestinal infection that is transmitted from person to person. It’s found in Southeast Asia, Africa, Central and South America and Western Pacific countries. Symptoms include headaches, lack of appetite, enlarged liver and constipation. Similar to hepatitis E, ensuring that one’s food is thoroughly cooked is an easy way to avoid typhoid.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, a disorder that has become more prevalent due to irrigation, is characterized by the inflammation of the intestines, bladder, liver and other organs. It was first detected in Morocco in 1914, but reached its peak post-independence when the new government was constructing numerous irrigation systems across the country.

Almost as dangerous as malaria, it is a serious parasitic infection that affects nearly 200 million people in Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. The lack of clean water makes schistosomiasis easily attainable because worms that carry the parasite can be found where people work, bathe or swim.

Although the top diseases in Morocco are affecting not only the population but those who visit the country, there is ample aid given to reduce the prevalence of these diseases. Organizations such as USAID and the World Health Organization (WHO) funnel money to provide more portable water, vaccinations and access to medical personnel and facilities. The U.S. planned to give $33,500,000 to combat top diseases in Morocco.

The country has been open to implementing strategies that lead to impressive differences. For example, Morocco started using azithromycin on a large-scale, the first country to do so, in an attempt to control trachoma.

Overall, Morocco has also made great strides towards eliminating other diseases including eradicating malaria, which it accomplished in 2010.

Ashley Morefield

Photo: Flickr

Fighting Rabies
According to the WHO, rabies is a viral disease primarily transmitted by dogs to humans. Fighting rabies is possible through the vaccination of both dogs and humans, as dogs are the source of approximately 99 percent of all rabies transmissions.

Over 95 percent of all human deaths due to rabies occur on the African and Asian continents. This article seeks to explore how organizations have been fighting rabies-related deaths.

Some of the difficulty in diagnosing human rabies infections lies in the fact that symptoms tend to not emerge before the onset of clinical disease. At that stage, the rabies infection can lead to death via cardiac arrest.

Washington State University veterinarians recently conducted a massive program to fight rabies — the clinicians vaccinated numerous dogs in rural villages in Tanzania, a locale where stray dogs are plentiful. Since many people in these villages lack electricity, easy access to vaccinations and dogs often roam freely, the likelihood of acquiring rabies is very high.

Dr. Guy Palmer and his colleagues found, however, that many children were very proactive about rabies prevention. Many of the Tanzanian youth created makeshift leashes or carried their canine companions to the free vaccinations Palmer and his team offered. These vaccinations will help drastically cut the number of human rabies infections in Africa, with 300 to 1000 dogs being vaccinated every day by the WSU team.

While the costs of preventative rabies vaccines are not extremely expensive to produce and distribute (one dollar per dog vaccinated), post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), which is used to treat people already infected with rabies, costs around $40 USD in Africa and $49 USD in Asia. This cost can be extremely problematic for the rural population who earn on average $1-2 USD per day and are the ones most likely to be exposed to rabies in Africa.

The Tanzanian plight against rabies does not go unnoticed. The WHO advocates for zero human rabies deaths by 2030 and Washington State University’s work in Tanzania is one step in the right direction towards attaining this goal.

But, as with most goals in life, WHO and WSU cannot accomplish this task alone — they need aid from other organizations, funding from advocates and support from everyone who wishes to combat the deadly yet easily preventable disease of rabies.

Bayley McComb

Photo: Flickr

Rabies outbreaks in poor rural areas
Rabies occurs in more than 150 countries in the world. The disease is present on all continents with the exception of Antarctica. Each year, tens of thousands of people die from the infection it causes.

Most of the areas that are affected are in Asia and Africa and account for over 95% of human rabies deaths. The disease occurs mainly in remote rural communities. Rabies outbreaks are rampant among impoverished and vulnerable populations.

Rabies is a zoonotic disease. It is caused by a virus that allows the disease to be transmitted to humans from animals. The disease may affect domestic and wild animals, known carriers include foxes, raccoons, skunks, jackals, mongooses and other wild carnivore host species. However, dogs are the primary sources of human rabies deaths. Rabies is spread to people through close contact with an infectious substance such as bites, saliva or scratches. Most people usually become infected after a deep bite or scratch by an infected animal. Upon the onset of the disease developing, the disease is nearly always fatal.

Prevalence in rural areas is due to the lack of vaccinations. There is low vaccination coverage of dogs, and an inability to finance the costs of vaccination for humans. Other factors include poor management of dogs, and in particular the free movement of dogs, which increases their risk of contracting rabies from wildlife.

In terms of policy, rabies is lacking policy formulations to combat rabies throughout developing countries. As a result of the poor level of political commitment and effort to control rabies, there is a lack of understanding of how rabies impacts public health and socioeconomic affairs.

Rabies is a vaccine-preventable viral disease. Each year over 14 million people receive a post-exposure vaccination to prevent the disease. This vaccination prevents hundreds of thousands of rabies deaths. Other strategies to control the disease consist of controlling the dog population, vaccinating domesticated animals and education about prevention to reduce the number of animal bites. After a bite, immediately cleaning the wound, and immunization within a few hours after contact with the animal can prevent the onset of rabies.

The World Health Organization promotes human rabies prevention through the elimination of rabies in dogs. Their target is for the elimination of human and dog rabies in all Latin American countries by 2015, and South-East Asia by 2020.

Erika Wright

Sources: Iowa State University, International Journal of Infectious Diseases, NIH, WHO
Photo: CNN