Archive for July, 2010

New Bill Could Impact Surveillance and Treatment of Neglected Infections of Poverty in the United States

July 30th, 2010

United States Representative Hank Johnson, Jr. introduced a bill before Congress today that will target the elimination of neglected infections of poverty (NIOPs) in the US. The “Neglected Infections of Impoverished Americans Act of 2010” or H.R. 5986, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to Congress annually on the impact of NIOPs, their threat and to make funding recommendations on how to eradicate them.

NIOPs are debilitating parasitic, bacterial, and congenital infections which disproportionately affect poor and minority populations in the US. The major NIOPs include toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis, trichomoniasis, congenital cytomegalovirus, cysticercosis, and Chagas disease (3 T’s and 3 C’s). The diseases have an especially great impact on the health and well being of women and children, impairing learning and productivity.

In a paper published in 2008 in the Public Library of Science Neglected Tropical Diseases, Sabin President Dr. Peter Hotez reported on the surprisingly high rates of parasitic infections among poor and minority populations in the US.

“These are diseases that we know are at least as important as H1N1,” Dr. Hotez said in a statement. “Yet, they are on no one’s radar. These are not exotic diseases found only in developing countries. They are right here in our communities, and this legislation is desperately needed to help get a grasp on their impact.”

Read the full press release here.

Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases at University of Notre Dame Recieves a $5 million gift from James Parsons and Carrie Quinn

July 30th, 2010

From the University of Notre Dame newswire:

James Parsons and Dr. Carrie Quinn, a married couple and graduates of the University of Notre Dame, have made a $5 million gift to their alma mater to endow the directorship of the University’s Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases.

“The work of Notre Dame researchers in the area of rare and neglected diseases is perfectly suited to our Catholic mission and is one of our top priorities,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., University president. “We are immensely grateful to Jim and Carrie for this generous gift, which will contribute immeasurably to our efforts to increase awareness, enhance research, find cures and, most importantly, bring hope to families afflicted with these forgotten diseases.”

Read more: Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases at University of Notre Dame Recieves a $5 million gift from James Parsons and Carrie Quinn

Dengue fever outbreak in Florida

July 29th, 2010

By: Alanna Shaikh

At this point, it almost fails to be news when we see an outbreak of an NTD on US soil. Especially in Florida, which doesn’t need much by way of climate change to be an excellent host for tropical diseases, neglected or otherwise. Nonetheless, a new outbreak of dengue fever in Florida is a scary sign for the future of global health.

As the fantastic humanosphere blog points out, dengue fever currently threatens one third of the world’s population and it’s the fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease in the world. It goes on to say that “Epidemics of both dengue and DHF are now routine in many parts of Latin America only several generations after the mosquito-borne virus was first identified there.” That is terrifying. The virus arrived and then just three generations later it’s an epidemic? That reminds me of HIV, among other frightening infectious diseases.

A bioclimatologist1 is quoted on Reuters blaming both increased travel among nations and climate change for Florida’s new vulnerability to Dengue. That’s a pattern we’ve seen strongly before as the NTDs go global. They travel more easily because of modern transport, and they can survive upon arrival because of climate change.

Read more: Dengue fever outbreak in Florida

The Global Atlas of Helminth Infection: Mapping the Way Forward in NTD Control

July 28th, 2010

Today marks the release of Dr. Peter Hotezs latest publication in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PLoS Medicine. Dr. Hotez, Distinguished Researcher and President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, co-authored  the editorial with Dr. Simon Brooker and Donald Bundy called The Global Atlas of Helminth Infection: Mapping the Way Forward in Neglected Tropical Disease Control. The paper discusses the importance of taking full advantage of recent increased financial commitments from governments, international agencies, and philanthropies by accurately mapping neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). This improvement in mapping would include better diagnostic tools and new methods of surveillance of these infectious diseases, which at times have been lackluster according to the authors, in efforts to control and eliminate them.

The authors also highlight a project, the Global Atlas of Helminth Infection (GAHI), which will provide open-access information on the distribution of soil-transmitted helminthiases and schistosomiasis. The GAHI will also highlight the geographical areas where further survey information is required via the GAHI website.

Visit PLoS Medicine to read the full article.

The Earthquake that Shocked the World Haiti 6 Months Later

July 28th, 2010

By: Billy Shore, Founder and Executive Director of Share Our Strength

The six month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, marked by renewed media coverage over the past few weeks, underscored how even the most riveting catastrophes eventually fade from our consciousness. I went to Port au Prince two weeks after the quake and again two months later. I witnessed the outpouring of generosity from around the world. With more than a million Haitians in desperate tarp and tent camps the need remains enormous. But now most of the volunteer aid workers are gone. Except during occasions like the six month anniversary, so are most reporters.

The burden of infectious diseases on the poorest people in the world is every bit as crushing as the concrete rubble that buried so many in Port au Prince. But it never commands anywhere near the same attention. And even sustaining what little visibility it gets is an enormous on-going challenge.

Read more: The Earthquake that Shocked the World Haiti 6 Months Later

Dr. Peter Hotez Guest Blogs for Tavis Smiley

July 28th, 2010

Dr. Peter Hotez, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, is featured as a guest blogger for the Tavis Smiley Show both an American radio and late night television show hosted by Tavis Smiley. Take a look at Dr. Hotezs second installment on the blog as he discusses neglected tropical diseases and vulnerable populations in the States.

Health authorities try to convince villagers that Buruli ulcer is not the result of witchcraft

July 27th, 2010

Reprinted with permission by Robert Herriman, Infectious Disease Examiner

By: Robert Herriman

As four communities in the Ayamelum council of Anambra State of Nigeria battle an outbreak of buruli ulcer, health officials face another battle and it’s not the bacteria…it’s a belief in witchcraft as the cause.

With about 250 natives affected one of the biggest battles is educating and convincing the people that the sores are not the result of spells or witchcraft.

This is the battle state Commissioner for Health, Professor Amobi Ilika faces. Patients interviewed said the ulcer began as a tiny spot. As it makes progress, it manifests as a little painless noodle or just as a skin discoloration and so on, on any part of the body.

But because of superstitious beliefs, the people seek out remedies that do not cure the infection and in fact make it worse.

But because the people believe that it is caused by a spell or witch craft, they resort to native doctors for a cure, or at most patent medicine dealers. In fact there is a patent medicine proprietor that is so popular in treating the affected persons and making them believe it will be well even when evidence of the eyes shows that it is worsening, according to source.

Read more: Health authorities try to convince villagers that Buruli ulcer is not the result of witchcraft

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    • The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases is a major advocacy and resource mobilization initiative of the Sabin Vaccine Institute dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)--a group of disabling, disfiguring, and deadly diseases affecting more than 1.4 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day.
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