DISEASES PLAGUING POORER NATIONS INFECT GROWING NUMBERS IN U.S.
June 26, 2008
A new report reveals that preventable diseases commonly seen among impoverished people in third-world countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are infecting millions of U.S. residents, mostly poor women and children, say John Lauerman and Rob Waters of Bloomberg.com.
The report by the Public Library of Science's Journal of Neglected Tropical Diseases found:
- Chronic infections such as Chagas disease and dengue fever are a major cause of disability, impaired child development and pregnancy complications in the United States.
- The Chagas disease may be found in as many as one in 25,000 blood donors in the United States and kills as many as one third of patients.
- Parasitic conditions including roundworm and toxoplasmosis, along with tropical bacteria are widespread in many inner cities, the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia and the Mexican borderlands.
Another problem identified in the report is the prevalence of worms, which could be infecting millions of people in the United States, most of them in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia, says Peter Hotez, the author of the study.
- Soil-dwelling microscopic worms, such as hookworms, penetrate the skin or gastrointestinal tract and infect billions of people throughout the tropical world.
- The tiny parasites can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, weakness, anemia, and may affect mental function and physical growth.
Improved recognition, screening and treatment of the diseases are needed to reduce the impact on patients, who are often poor and less educated.
Source: John Lauerman and Rob Waters, "Diseases Plaguing Poorer Nations Infect Growing Numbers in U.S.," Bloomberg.com, June 24, 2008.
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