Posts or Comments 24 June 2024

Chagas Disease &Climate &Leprosy &Malaria &NTDs &Vector Control &Zika Bill Brieger | 31 Jul 2023 01:35 pm

Fighting NTDs at Home in the United States

The United States has been assisting in the fight against malaria and tropical diseases throughout the tropics. The question now arises is it ready to tackle these diseases on the home front?

In recent months CBS News reported that “Malaria cases in Florida and Texas are first locally acquired infections in U.S. in 20 years,” according to CDC. Local transmission of these 8 cases is the key concern because there are always imported cases from travelers to malaria endemic areas throughout the year. This has led to better planning of mosquito control activities. All of the Florida cases were found in Sarasota County. Although Anopheles mosquitoes still existed in the environment, they had not been infected in recent years.

Likewise Pensacola News Journal noted that, “Rising evidence is pointing to the possibility that leprosy has become endemic in the southeastern U.S. with Florida being named among the top reported states.” The paper explains that these Leprosy cases in central Florida account for nearly 20% of the national total, and that the state is considering instituting contact tracing.

Chagas disease may affect up to 300,000 people from Florida across to California, but an Emerging Pathogens Institute report shared in the Apopka Voice, explained that most cases remain undetected. While Chagas primarily affects people who have immigrated from Latin America, researchers are discovering locally acquired cases because the vector, the kissing bug, has been found in 29 states, and thus local transmission now occurs.

An article in PLoS NTDs explains that Zika, Dengue, and Chikungunya viruses are spread in the southern and Gulf Coast states by members of the Aedes mosquito family, aided by changes in weather and climate patterns. Just as in other countries where NTDs are endemic, the US experience of these diseases also sees that, “poverty equates to substandard housing that exposes residents to insect vectors, a lack of access to sanitation and water, and degraded environments.”

Local, State and National health agencies in the US are starting to awaken to the fact that diseases which we thought were eliminated back in the mid-19th-century are making a comeback. At a minimum, funding and training are needed to equip our Health Departments with environmentally appropriate vector control measures, appropriate treatment regimens, and disease surveillance tools to tackle the same problems that are threatening the lives of people throughout low- and middle-income countries throughout the world.

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