Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Knowledge of cervical tuberculosis lymphadenitis and its treatment in pastoral communities of the Afar region, Ethiopia

Mengistu Legesse13*, Gobena Ameni1, Gezahegne Mamo23, Girmay Medhin1, Gunnar Bjune3 and Fekadu Abebe3

Author Affiliations

1 Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2 Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Addis Ababa University, Bishofittu, Ethiopia

3 Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, Institute for Health and Society, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:157  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-157

Published: 9 March 2011

Abstract

Background

Infection with Mycobacterium bovis (Mb) predominantly causes cervical TB lymphadenitis (TBL). Raw milk is considered the main source of Mb infection and raw milk is a major food source for Afar pastoralists. The aim of this study was to assess Afar pastoralists' knowledge concerning cervical TBL and its treatment.

Methods

A community-based cross-sectional survey involving 818 interviewees was conducted in two districts of the Afar Region, Ethiopia. In addition, two focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted in each of the study areas, one with men and the other with women.

Results

Of the 818 interviewees [357 (43.6%) females and 461 (56.4%) males], 742 (90.7%) reported that they had knowledge of cervical TBL, mentioning that swelling(s) on the neck resulting in a lesion and scar are common symptoms. However, only 11 (1.5%) individuals mentioned that bacteria or germs are the causative agents of TBL. Three interviewees and a male discussant mentioned drinking raw milk as the cause of TBL. A considerable proportion (34.2%) of the interviewees and almost all the discussants suggested herbal medicine as an effective treatment. Male study participants were 1.82 times more likely to have overall knowledge of TBL than female study participants (adjusted OR, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.32 to 2.51, p < 0.001).

Conclusion

The pastoral community members in the study areas had little biomedical knowledge of the cause, the source of infection and the transmission route of cervical TBL. Furthermore, most community members believed that herbal medicines are the most effective treatment for TBL. Therefore, TB control programs in the Afar Region require the incorporation of public health education introducing current biomedical knowledge of the disease. In addition, further studies are important to elucidate which medicinal plants are used by Afar pastoralists to treat TBL.