Risk factors of visceral leishmaniasis: A case control study in north-western Ethiopia

Solomon Yared, Kebede Deribe, Araya Gebreselassie, Wessenseged Lemma, Essayas Akililu, Oscar D. Kirstein, Meshesha Balkew, Alon Warburg, Teshome Gebre-Michael, Asrat Hailu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL, also called kala-azar"), is a life threatening neglected tropical infectious disease which mainly affects the poorest of the poor. VL is prevalent in Ethiopia particularly in the northwest of the country. Understanding the risk factors of VL infection helps in its prevention and control. The aim of the present study was to identify the factors associated with VL. Methods: A case control study was carried out during the period of January-July 2013 in northwest Ethiopia. Cases and controls were diagnosed using clinical presentation, the rk39 rapid diagnostic test and Direct Agglutination Test (DAT). A total of 283 (84.8% males versus 15.2% females) participants were interviewed. 90 cases and 193 controls were involved, matched by age, sex and geographical location with a ratio of 1:2 (case: controls). Univariate and backward multivariate conditional logistic regression were used to identify risk factors of VL. Results: Elevated odds of VL was associated with goat ownership (OR = 6.4; 95%: confidence interval [Cl]: 1.5-28.4), living in houses with cracked wall (OR = 6.4; 95% Cl: 1.6-25.6), increased family size (OR = 1.3; 95% Cl: 1.0-1.8) and the number of days spent in the farm field (OR = 1.1; 95% Cl: 1.0-1.2). However, daily individual activities around the home and farm fields, mainly sleeping on a bed (OR = 0.2; 95%: Cl 0.03-0.9), sleeping outside the house under a bed net (OR = 0.1; 95% Cl: 0.02-0.36)] and smoking plant parts in the house during the night time (OR = 0.1; 95% Cl: 0.01-0.6) were associated with decreased odds of being VL case. Conclusion: Our findings showed that use of bed net and smoke could be helpful for the prevention of VL in the area particularly among individuals who spend most of their time in the farm. VL control effort could be focused on improving housing conditions, such as sealing cracks and crevices inside and outside houses. Further research is warranted to elucidate the role of goats in the transmission of L. donovani, assess the impact of bed nets and the role of the traditional practice of smoking plants.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number470
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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