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Tsetse Flies Are Back, 12 Districts At Risk

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Any keen person travelling to parts of Eastern Uganda, decades ago, would not fail to notice the blue and white flytraps while on the road. The eye-catching flytraps were set for tsetse flies that transmit sleeping sickness to humans and nagana in livestock.

Fred Kyakulaga, the state minister of agriculture, said the tsetse flies that had plagued parts of Busoga and other areas but were beaten into submission in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, are now making a comeback.

“The tsetse flies are coming back in areas where they had been contained.

We have started receiving reports of their coming back,” Kyakulaga said.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala during a press conference organised by the agriculture ministry.

The press conference was organised ahead of the East African Desert Locust Conference at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Friday. The Desert Locust Control Organisation is celebrating 60 years.

The commissioner in charge of crop protection at the agriculture ministry, Stephen Byantwale, confirmed that this followed reports of sighting of the tsetse flies in traps that had caught the troublesome insects.

“We have reports from different people and our traps have caught tsetse flies showing that they are coming back in some areas,” Byantwale said.

“We have tsetse flies in the districts around Lake Victoria or the Lake Victoria belt and the island districts of Kalangala and Buvuma.”

Byantwale said the agriculture ministry was going to engage Cabinet with aerial spraying as their recommendation.

The 12 districts currently under threat include Kyotera, Masaka, Kalungu, Mpigi, Wakiso, Mukono, Buikwe, Mayuge, Namayingo and Busia.

Others are island districts of Kalangala and Buvuma.

Tsetse flies live mainly in savanna woodland, forests, riverine, bushes or shrubs and swampy areas. Both males and females depend on a blood meal from human, livestock and wild game hence spreading the disease through this mechanism.

Kyakulaga said tsetse flies were behind human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness and nagana is livestock, which disrupted the socioeconomic set-up in parts of Busoga (Jinja, Mayuge, Kamuli and Iganga).

“The place (Busoga) had become inhabitable,” Kyakulaga said, adding that this called for spraying and the use of flytraps. The blue colour of these traps attracts tsetse flies.

He said the vector-borne parasitic disease caused de-population of many parts of the country some of which were declared as forest reserves or national parks.

Sleeping sickness occurs in 38 sub-Saharan African countries including Uganda with an average of 15,000 human cases reported annually and 70 million people at risk of contracting the infection.

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