home
RSS
June 16th, 2008
03:31 PM ET

Cameroon's diseased children

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent

In a small town called Akonolinga, about an hour outside Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, a strange disease is going around that primarily affects children. It starts as an ulcer on the skin that quickly spreads. Untreated, it can start to affect the bones and eventually even get into the bloodstream. If it gets to that point, there is little that can be done, and the child will often succumb to the disease. They try everything in this small village town to not let it get to that bad. They scrape away the skin, cutting out the diseased areas. They give injections of various medicines, and they keep people in hospitals for months. I met a young boy named Naturale, who had to have his left arm amputated at the shoulder. I almost cried when I met him. By the time he came into see a doctor, the disease was too far gone, his bones literally crumbling. As I visited the clinic, I learned the name of the disease: Buruli. I also learned something that stunned me — what many in this town believe is the origin of Buruli: Witchcraft.

It goes like this — as a punishment for taking something or some other trivial thing, these children had been cursed by witches and sorcerers living in the nearby areas. Take someone else’s mango for example, and soon after the child will get an ulcer. In Naturale’s case, he was born out of wedlock, and the witches in the area thought it would be better if he were dead. I was told they cursed him with a particularly severe infection, and he barely survived. Now he stays at the hospital trying to shield himself.

Now, if you think what you are reading is too far-fetched, you may be interested to know I sat down with Ph.D-level medical anthropologist, Karen Saylors, who explained all of this to me. Along with researchers associated with Johns Hopkins, she is studying Buruli.

Buruli ulcers have been reported in more than 30 countries, according to the World Health Organization. With the increasing geographical spread since 1980, WHO is working to improve surveillance and develop better tools to control the disease. Karen introduced me to traditional healers who knew all about placing a hex on someone and even how to cure the disease with herbs and a piece of bark.

While Karen and her colleagues don’t really buy into the idea of witchcraft, they also recognize what a widespread belief it really is here. Instead, Karen has busied herself studying the possibility that Buruli may be spread from animal to human. As it has many similarities to a staph infection, which can cause flesh to be ulcerated and seemlingly “eaten,”, the doctors are using powerful antibiotics with good success. Karen has even studied the particular traditional medicine herbs, which are often effective. What she found was that particular plant had some of the same ingredients found in streptomycin, an antibiotic.

As a doctor, it was amazing to see how this disease has been deciphered. It was also a fascinating glimpse into the connection between animals, plants and humans. Not only is the Buruli-causing pathogen most likely from an animal, but the medication used to treat it is from a local plant. And, if we look deep enough, we find this is in fact the case with many diseases.

Today, I will be in the wilderness of DRC, specifically a village called Lodja. We will be visiting a monkeypox surveillance clinic. I promise to report back on how the locals here are working to contain the virus so it doesn’t spread around the world. I can’t help be struck by the fact that we are in the middle of a very strong interface between man and animal. It has been here for millions of years, but it is only now that we are starting to understand its awesome culture, power and possible danger.  revised 6/19/2008

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


soundoff (890 Responses)
  1. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Your style is very unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you've got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this site.

    http://dfx.longmanenglish.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 00:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. culvers near me

    http://aawholesaletire.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestservicenearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 04:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. pharmaceptica.com

    ic hydroxychloroquine https://pharmaceptica.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. gyms near me

    https://sc.sie.gov.hk/TuniS/reviewnearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. contractors near me

    Howdy! I could have sworn Iíve been to this web site before but after going through a few of the articles I realized itís new to me. Regardless, Iím definitely delighted I found it and Iíll be bookmarking it and checking back regularly!

    http://mpwrs.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=bestlocalnearme.com

    June 21, 2021 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. dmv near me

    I have to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this blog. I really hope to check out the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal blog now 😉

    https://www.immojobs.at/redirect.php?url=https://bestshopnearme.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    http://library.cust.edu.tw/global_outurl.php?now_url=https://ocrvcenter.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Camper Repair Places Near Me

    http://asbtl.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 11:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Repair Orange County California

    https://www.brackenburyprimary.co.uk/brighton-hove/primary/portslade/CookiePolicy.action?backto=https://ocrvcenter.com

    June 21, 2021 at 11:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. RV Repair Garden Grove

    An impressive share! I've just forwarded this onto a colleague who had been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me dinner because I discovered it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to discuss this topic here on your web page.

    https://www.groupbuya.com/object/readurl?url=https://ocrv.rocks/&gbapi=ipopup

    June 21, 2021 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RV Windshield Repair Near Me

    Having read this I believed it was extremely informative. I appreciate you finding the time and effort to put this information together. I once again find myself personally spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    http://www.herna.net/cgi/redir.cgi?ocrvmotorsports.org/

    June 21, 2021 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now

    https://www.crucible-technologies.co.uk/registrationcomplete.aspx?returnurl=http://ocrvshop.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Repair Nearby

    http://libregraphicsworld.org/?URL=https://ocrv.guru

    June 21, 2021 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. hardware near me

    Iím amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog thatís equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this during my search for something regarding this.

    https://www.jacinto.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=earme.a2hosted.com

    June 21, 2021 at 18:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Mercedes Winnebago Sprinter Repair

    http://jnysuitshop.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=customcampervans.com

    June 21, 2021 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. pharmaceptica

    sildenafil tablet in india https://www.pharmaceptica.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 20:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Appliance Repair Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe this site needs much more attention. Iíll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!

    http://salefare.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.life

    June 21, 2021 at 22:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Rv Technician

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there is an easy method you can remove me from that service? Thank you!

    http://myownhomeblog.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetservicesorangecounty.com

    June 21, 2021 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. covid 19 testing near me

    Oh my goodness! Awesome article dude! Many thanks, However I am experiencing troubles with your RSS. I donít know the reason why I cannot subscribe to it. Is there anyone else getting identical RSS problems? Anyone that knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanx!!

    http://kidoons.com/redirect?url=earme.a2hosted.com/

    June 21, 2021 at 23:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. RV Brake Repair Near Me

    http://www.libertyphotos.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.ocrv.us

    June 22, 2021 at 00:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Repair

    I like it when individuals come together and share thoughts. Great website, stick with it!

    http://thatgirlshow.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.info

    June 22, 2021 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. RV Repair Parts Near Me

    This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Many thanks!

    http://elessonplanhub.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.mobi/

    June 22, 2021 at 06:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Diesel Sprinter Repair Service

    I was able to find good information from your blog articles.

    http://nphapay.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=fleetservicesocrv.com

    June 22, 2021 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    http://direct2bank.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 22, 2021 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Van Upgrades Shop Near Me

    http://www.toshiki.net/x/modules/wordpress/wp-ktai.php?view=redir&url=https://ocrvfleetservices.com

    June 22, 2021 at 12:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. podcast music

    http://cobytaiwan.tw/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.backbonehunters.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. inside of you podcast

    http://csfsettlements.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Video Marketing Agency

    http://colormecotton.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Video Marketing Consultant

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be useful to read content from other authors and use something from other web sites.

    http://www.nzautocar.co.nz/Redirect.aspx?destination=consciousgrowthmarketing.com/

    June 22, 2021 at 21:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. RV Glass Repair Near Me

    http://bongu.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com

    June 22, 2021 at 21:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RV Camper Repair Near Me

    I need to to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you book marked to check out new things you postÖ

    http://www.jenteporten.no/go.php?url=https://ocrvcenter.com

    June 22, 2021 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. RV Trailer Repair Near Me

    http://csleurope.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvcenter.com/

    June 23, 2021 at 03:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. RV Air Conditioner Repair Near Me

    http://www.cliptags.net/Rd?u=https://ocrv.org

    June 23, 2021 at 03:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Water Repair Man Near Me

    I love it when people get together and share thoughts. Great website, keep it up!

    http://newyork-healthdepartment.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrvmotorsports.org

    June 23, 2021 at 04:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Google Marketing Companies

    https://abc.huomao.com/url?rewrite=https://www.consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 23, 2021 at 08:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. jim rome podcast

    http://sunsweptresorts.biz/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=backbonehunters.com

    June 23, 2021 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Video Marketing Specialist

    http://www.vb2themax.com/lula_out.php?link=https://lifeboosterpack.com

    June 23, 2021 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Digital Marketing Company Near Me

    http://wmcasher.ru/out.php?url=https://cleanuponlinereputation.com

    June 23, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Repair Shops Near My Location

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove me from that service? Many thanks!

    https://www.crucible-technologies.co.uk/RegistrationComplete.aspx?Returnurl=https://www.ocrvmotorsports.com

    June 23, 2021 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Digital Marketing Consultant Near Me

    http://www.marketcapcentral.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=curtismelancon.com

    June 23, 2021 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. SEO Marketing Consultant

    I couldnít resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    http://ltm.sustainablecities.org/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=meticulousjess.com

    June 23, 2021 at 17:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Social Media Marketing Firms

    When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I receive four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks!

    http://lauritsen.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=getmoneytraveling.com

    June 23, 2021 at 18:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. ups drop box near me

    Hi! I could have sworn Iíve visited this blog before but after looking at a few of the posts I realized itís new to me. Anyways, Iím certainly pleased I came across it and Iíll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!

    http://howtothrow.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=www.reviewnearme.com

    June 24, 2021 at 02:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RV Water Repair Man Near Me

    Everyone loves it whenever people get together and share thoughts. Great blog, continue the good work!

    http://spinalcord.net/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.world

    June 24, 2021 at 03:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Brake Repair Near Me

    http://beklifenet.tv/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=rvmarketingexperts.com

    June 24, 2021 at 03:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Internet Marketing Companies

    http://cmkvadrat.com/bitrix/rk.php?goto=https://internetmarketingsupply.com

    June 24, 2021 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Digital Marketing Agencies Near Me

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the challenges. It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Many thanks for sharing!

    http://planet-ballroom.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=cleanuponlinereputation.com

    June 24, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Video Marketing Companies

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be exciting to read through content from other authors and use something from other sites.

    http://handmadeinnewmexico.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=consciousgrowthmarketing.com

    June 24, 2021 at 04:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. RV Tire Repair Near Me

    I really like reading through a post that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment!

    http://ashleycoe.com/__media__/js/netsoltrademark.php?d=ocrv.org

    June 24, 2021 at 04:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. kitchen supplies near me

    http://ama.infoweber.com/out.cgi?id=00557&url=https://reviewnearme.com/

    June 24, 2021 at 06:47 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.