"That reliable numbers on the actual prevalence of these neglected tropical diseases in the United States are simply not available is reflective of their neglected status, and their disproportionate impact on minorities and poor people," says Professor Hotez. "There is an urgent need to support studies that assess the disease burden resulting from these diseases in the United States, identify the minority populations at greatest risk, and identify simple and cost-effective public health solutions."
A related study in this week's journal, by Thomas Nutman (National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA ) and colleagues, documents a sizeable number of imported cases to the US of parasitic worm infections (filarial infections) that are predominantly found in the developing world.
Dr. Nutman and colleagues examined data from The GeoSentinel Surveillance Network, a global network of medical and travel clinics established in 1995 to detect trends in illnesses among US travelers. Filarial infections, such as river blindness, elephantiasis, and African eyeworm comprised 0.62% (271) of the 43,722 medical conditions reported to the GeoSentinel Network between 1995 and 2004. Immigrants from filarial-endemic regions comprised the group most likely to have acquired a filarial infection; sub-Saharan Africa was the region of the world where the majority of filarial infections were acquired.
|Contact: Mary Kohut|
Public Library of Science