Top researchers in Texas are working to treat and prevent diseases such as Chagas, cysticercosis, dengue, leishmaniasis and leprosy
Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of 17 common infectious diseases, such as hookworm, leishmaniasis and river blindness, which disproportionately affect the world's poor. While NTDs are commonly associated with the developing world, many of these diseases also threaten poor populations in the Southern U.S., especially in Texas.
Neglected diseases, including Chagas disease, cysticercosis, dengue fever, leishmaniasis and toxocariasis, are endemic to Texas and are already widespread among those living in poverty. These infections disproportionately affect children, women, agricultural workers and people of color. Their impact on Texans' health is dramatically disproportionate to the amount of funding and resources dedicated to research regarding the extent of the problem, modes of transmission and prevention of these infections.
Researchers in Texas are working to reveal the hidden burden of neglected diseases of poverty in the state, raise the profile of these serious global health threats and demonstrate the need for the development of new prevention, control and treatment tools and strategies.
Global Health Ambassador Dr. Peter Hotez , founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, in collaboration with others researchers, recently published two related articles:
- Texas and Mexico: Sharing a Legacy of Poverty and Neglected Tropical Diseases.
- Chagas Disease: The New HIV/AIDS of the Americas.
Did you know?
- According to Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, a Sabin Vaccine Institute initiative, funding for NTDs steadily increased to as much $89 million in FY12 - a $12 million increase from the previous year. But in FY13, President Barack Obama requested only $67 million as part of an effort to lower overall government spending. "With real success within sight, any loss of momentum would be devastating."
- Up to 267,000 cases of Chagas disease - a parasitic disease of the Americas that can cause heart failure and death - are believed to occur in Texas.
- Approximately 100,000-200,000 cases of dengue have been estimated to occur among the Mexican-American population in the U.S.
- Pork tapeworm - known as cysticercosis - is a leading cause of epilepsy among Hispanics living in Texas and up to 169,000 cases of cysticercosis are estimated to occur in the US, with Texas and California most likely representing the greatest share of the disease burden from this condition.
- NTDs affect people living on both sides of the border and produce a higher burden than HIV/AIDS in certain areas.
- These diseases include hookworm and other soil-transmitted helminth infections, Chagas disease, amebiasis, schistosomiasis, vivax malaria, leishmaniasis, and dengue fever
- NTDs trap Latin America's ‘‘bottom 100 million'' in poverty, negatively affecting child physical and intellectual development, pregnancy outcome, and worker productivity.
In January 2012, the Global Network for NTDs launched the END7 campaign to raise awareness about NTDs, arguably the next major issue in global health today. Research led to the formulation of the rapid impact package and the drugs we now have to treat many of these diseases.
Experts gathered in Texas on June 7th to discuss global health R&D and neglected tropical diseases , click here to read more.