Infections Of Poverty' In United States Disable Hundreds Of
Thousands Of Americans Annually
ScienceDaily (June 25, 2008)
— An analysis published June 25th in the open-access journal
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases highlights that diseases very
similar to those plaguing Africa, Asia, and Latin America are
also occurring frequently among the poorest people in the United
States, especially women and children. These diseases -- the
"neglected infections of poverty" -- are caused by chronic and
debilitating parasitic, bacterial, and congenital infections.
Americans have never heard of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs),
the analysis estimates that these infections occur in hundreds
of thousands of poor Americans concentrated primarily in the
Mississippi Delta (including post-Katrina Louisiana),
Appalachia, the Mexican borderlands, and inner cities. These
diseases represent a major cause of chronic disability, impaired
child development, and adverse pregnancy outcomes, yet many of
them are preventable.
"The fact that
these neglected infections of poverty represent some of the
greatest health disparities in the United States, but they
remain at the bottom of the public health agenda, is a national
disgrace," says Peter J. Hotez , MD, PhD, author of the analysis
and President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, Executive Director
of Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, and Walter G.
Ross Professor and Chair of the Microbiology, Immunology, and
Tropical Medicine department at George Washington University.
that the common features of these neglected infections include
their highly disproportionate health impact on minorities and
people living in poverty; their chronic, largely insidious, and
disabling features; and their ability to promote poverty because
of their impact on child development, pregnancy outcome, and
productive capacity. He calls upon policy makers to make these
infections a priority on the public health agenda.
these neglected infections is both a highly cost-effective
mechanism for lifting disadvantaged populations out of poverty
and consistent with our shared American values of equity and
equality," Hotez says. "We need a national dialogue about these
very important, but neglected conditions that afflict the
poorest people in the United States. Neglected infections of
poverty are understudied and not well known even by physicians
and public-health experts. This lack of understanding and
knowledge points to the urgent need to increase surveillance for
these infections; use cost-effective existing drug control and
treatment efforts; implement newborn screenings; and develop new
drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines for these infections."