Global & Disaster Medicine

Volcanic Minerals, Not Worms, Caused Disease Outbreak in Uganda

NY Times

“….The scientists found 52 suspected victims, and the rumor in the area was that the disease was caused by stepping in elephant dung. The investigators’ working assumption was that the worms that cause lymphatic filariasis had recently reached local mosquitoes.

Some victims reported that their legs began swelling as far back as 1980. Most had swelling in both feet, while filariasis tends to affect one leg. And most were farmers who lived above 4,000 feet, where mosquitoes are less common.

Also, only one victim had a swollen scrotum…..The victims had podoconiosis, a disease caused by walking barefoot in volcanic soils.

Such soils contains tiny, sharp, alkaline mineral crystals that work their way under the skin, causing fierce itching, and then are attacked by white blood cells, triggering inflammation that can develop over time into weeping sores and fibrous tissue…….”


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