It is clear that the impact of CSOM on the developing regions of the world, as well as its current lack of effective treatment options, make it a strong candidate for becoming a true NTD. Ultimately, the global fight against CSOM will require both treatment and prevention strategies, together with efforts to raise awareness of this disease and its health and economic impact on developing countries.
In a landmark White House summit last week President Barack Obama addressed health ministers from more than 40 countries, in addition to leaders from several international health organizations. His welcomed message was that highly lethal and widespread epidemics such as the West African Ebola outbreak are more than public health threats. Instead these devastating infections when they affect or threaten large populations also have dire economic consequences and themselves are highly destabilizing leading to further breakdowns in already fragile systems and infrastructures. In this sense Ebola is a direct and serious threat to national and global securities.
This week as President Obama asks Congress to provide $2 billion to help control an influx of Central American children crossing the South Texas border, many are voicing a prominent concern that children entering from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras will introduce infectious diseases across the southern United States. Politicians and even some physicians have even labeled these children a threat to homeland security because of their potential to create a public health crisis.
However, the reality of Texas (as well as adjacent areas of the US Gulf Coast) is that tropical infectious diseases are already here and many of them have been here for decades or centuries. Rather than immigration it is the convergence of extreme poverty and warm climate that make this region vulnerable to a group of illnesses known as the neglected tropical diseases or ‘NTDs’. Texas and the Gulf Coast states rank among the poorest in our nation, and the pervasive low-quality housing and environmental degradation, together with long, hot, and humid summers create the perfect conditions for NTDs to flourish. Read the rest here
The recent finding that dengue fever has emerged in Houston, Texas—the first major United States city in modern times with autochthonous dengue—adds to previous evidence indicating that the Gulf Coast of the Southern US is under increasing threat from diseases thought previously to affect only developing countries.
Extreme poverty and a warm, tropical climate are the two most potent forces promoting the endemicity of neglected tropical diseases in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Now, these same forces are also widely prevalent in the five states of the US Gulf Coast—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new initiative that targets parasitic diseases in the United States. Coinciding with the publication of a series of articles in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH), the new CDC initiative will prioritize five major parasitic diseases — Chagas disease, cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis and trichomoniasis — which are considered neglected because they mainly impact Americans who live in extreme poverty, especially in the southern United States and in degraded urban areas of major U.S. cities. CDC’s renewed commitment to these diseases is extremely welcome, and I especially want to congratulate the dynamic leadership of their Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria including Drs. Monica Parise and Larry Slutsker, who lead these activities.