Historical Profiles in Neglected Tropical Disease Control

There is a rich history linked to the control of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Because many NTDs are disfiguring or produce characteristic signs and symptoms they were often easily identified – even in ancient times – as unique. Therefore, attempts to treat or control these conditions sometimes go back thousands of years. For instance, the ancients devised methods for slowly removing guinea worms from the subcutaneous tissues of the lower extremities and even devised a method to immunize people against leishmaniasis by inoculating children on the extremities or buttocks with live Leishmania parasites in order to prevent disfiguring ulcers on the face following the bites of sandflies. “Leishmanization” conducted in the Middle East and Central Asia likely predates by centuries the first Jennerian attempts at vaccination in the late 1700s.

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