June 25, 2008

Neglected Diseases Linked to Poverty

A U.S. report concludes the nation's poor are needlessly suffering from neglected infections commonly found in poverty-stricken regions.

The study, published in the Public Library of Science, said hundreds of thousands of people living in the Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, inner cities and Mexican borderlands suffer from parasitic, bacterial and congenital infections similar to so-called neglected tropical diseases in Africa, Asia and Latin America, the Sabin Vaccine Institute's Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases said.

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, Dr. Peter J. Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, said Monday in a statement.

The neglected infections include congenital cytomegalovirus infection, trichomoniasis, toxocariasis, Chagas disease and cysticercosis, a parasitic worm infection now considered the leading cause of epilepsy among Hispanics, the report said.