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Ethnic Tibetans get treatment for disease caught from animals
By:China Daily
update:November 20,2017

Nov. 20, 2017 -- For more than four years, Danzin Yudron, a herdswoman from Tsomai county in the Tibet autonomous region, had not felt well, with pain in her back and a reduced appetite.

The 32-year-old said she had no idea what ailment she might have had until September last year, when she was given screening tests at Tibet No 2 People's Hospital in Lhasa, the regional capital, by doctors from 302 Military Hospital, a major hospital in Beijing that specializes in the treatment of infectious diseases.

Both Danzin Yudron and her 12-year-old daughter, Peng Qiong, were diagnosed with echinococcosis - a parasitic disease prevalent in the region - and several days later they were sent to the military hospital in Beijing for surgery.

"We were given the surgeries free, and my doctor told us the operations were successful and we only needed to have follow-up checks every six months," Danzin Yudron, who was in Beijing for one of the follow-ups this month, said in Tibetan through a translator.

Echinococcosis is caused by contact with animals - such as dogs or foxes - that are infected with a type of tiny tapeworm. It can be spread to humans, and damages major organs such as the liver, lungs and brain, and can be fatal.

Danzin Yudron is one of the many people from the Tibet autonomous region who recovered from echinococcosis after diagnosis and treatment at 302 Military Hospital.

Since 2015, the hospital has sent six medical teams to the region and neighboring areas where ethnic Tibetans live, such as Qinghai province, to help local medical personnel with diagnosing and treating the disease.

By early November, doctors from the hospital conducted more than 7,100 screenings in those areas, with 460 people diagnosed as having the infection.

The hospital has provided surgeries to 99 patients who were in critical condition and sent to Beijing for treatment. All of the surgeries were successful, the hospital said.
Li Bin, director of the Tibet Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the parasite has hit the region much more seriously than other areas in China. Traditional living habits of those who raise livestock in the regions - such as living in close quarters with animals - make it easier for the parasite to move from animals to humans, he said.

A survey organized by the National Health and Family Planning Commission last year found that prevalence of echinococcosis in the region was more than 1.6 percent, the highest in China, he said.

The Tibet government began testing the region's whole population this year. By early November about 2.9 million people had been tested - about 98 percent of the total population - according to the regional government.

The screenings found more than 26,800 confirmed or suspected echinococcosis cases. Medical professionals from 17 provinces and municipalities have assisted the region with the screenings, said Li of the regional CDC. After the screenings, the regional government will focus on treatment of the confirmed cases, he said.

In addition to 302 Military Hospital, many other hospitals and organizations, such as the China Charity Federation, have also been offering assistance to diagnose and treat patients, he said.

Zhu Zhenyu, a doctor specializing in liver diseases at 302 Military Hospital, who was in Tibet to help in July, said a major challenge in Tibet is a lack of skilled doctors.
Local doctors need more training, he said, so that patients don't have to travel for treatment.

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