Symposium to focus on lymphatic filariasis in Haiti

Author: William G. Gilroy

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A symposium titled First Steps: Eliminating Lymphatic Filariasis inHaitiwill be held Monday (March 21) at McKenna Hall at the University of Notre Dame. The event is free and open to the public.

Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) causes the grotesque swelling of the body known as elephantiasis, a disease in which progressive lymphatic dysfunction leads to the hideous swelling of legs, arms, breasts, or genitals. LF is aggravated by dangerous skin infections whose heat can become so intense it causes second-degree burns. Notre Dames Haiti Program, led by biologist Rev. Thomas Streit, C.S.C., has as its goal the elimination of LF fromHaitiby 2012. As many as 2 million ofHaitis 8.3 million people are believed infected with the mosquito-borne parasites that cause LF.

The focus of theHaitisymposium will be fortified salt production inHaiti. Under the leadership of the Haiti Health Ministry, Notre Dame and principal partners Holy Cross Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control, and UNICEF have been working to fortify the Haiti salt supply with the drug diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and iodine to interrupt the transmission of LF and ameliorate iodine deficiency standards.

The symposium will begin at8 a.m.and the highlight of the event will be an address titledHealth inHaiti: Charge to the Partnersat4 p.m.byJosette Bijou,Haitis Minister of Public Health and the Population. Other presenters include Patrick Lammie, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Steven Alt, regional advisor for communicable diseases for the Pan American Health Organization; and Madsen Beau de Rochars, director of the LF Reference Center at Hôpital Sainte Croix inLeogane,Haiti.

At2:30 p.m., Notre Dame industrial design students under the direction ofDepartment of Art, Art History and Design faculty members Paul Down and Robert Sedlak, will make a presentation addressing the need to rebuild the Haitian salt evaporation pools that were destroyed last September by Hurricane Jeanne.

* Contact: * _Rev. Thomas G. Streit, C.S.C.,HaitiProgram director, 574-631-3273, streit.1@nd.edu _

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Originally published by William G. Gilroy at news.nd.edu on March 17, 2005.