|Dec. 15, 2016 -- A campaign to control a fatal parasitic disease in a Tibetan-inhabited county in southwest China's Sichuan Province has seen remarkable progress, with over 90 percent of local residents screened, according to local health authorities.
Echinococcosis, a type of tapeworm infection, mainly affects herding areas in Sichuan, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang. In 2012, about 50 million people were under threat from the disease. The government aims to control the disease by 2020.
Humans can be infected with the disease through contact with infected animals and contaminated food, water and sand.
Shiqu County in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze is among the hardest-hit regions. It has waged a war against the disease since November 2015 by regulating pet dogs, providing clean drinking water and raising awareness among residents.
Screening has covered 82,300 people, over 92 percent of the county's population, and more than 6,000 have been found to be infected. Free medication has been offered to patients.
Health authorities have employed 169 workers to send drugs to the homes of dog owners and properly dispose of dog feces every month to prevent an outbreak among Tibetan mastiffs, the favorite pet among locals.
Villager Dalo, whose wife underwent two surgeries due to the parasite, said he backs the government's efforts to control the disease. He feeds his mastiff the drug mixed in with its food.
"If our dog doesn't get the disease, we'll be safe," he said.
In addition, the local government dug 142 deep wells to provide safe drinking water to 11,400 villagers and has worked to eliminate rats on 243,500 mu (16,233 hectares) of grassland.
A survey conducted by Garze investigators from the National Bureau of Statistics showed awareness of echinococcosis among Shiqu residents has increased from 53 percent at the end of 2015 to 75 percent currently.