7 Neglected Diseases You've Never Heard Of

Hookworm in Foot Photo

Image of hookworm via: Scienceblogs.com

Well, maybe you have, but now that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is championing their cause, to the tune of a $34 million grant to fight these diseases, you just might be hearing a lot more about them. According to a recent article in Nature, many of the diseases can be prevented with better sanitation and a combination of shots. So, what are these neglected, but treatable, diseases affecting 1.4 billion people around the world?

1. Trachoma (Blinding Eye Infection) -

Trachoma Blinding Eye Infection Photo
is "the world's leading cause of preventable blindness" and is particularly problematic for children who are susceptible and only gets more painful as the child ages. What starts out as a leaky, itchy eye, turns into blurred/scarred vision, along with ingrown eyelashes, intense inflammation and corneal clouding. It is spread through close contact with someone who has infected eyes, or through contact with flies that have come into contact with the face or nose of an infected person.

2. Onchocerciasis -

Onchocerciasis Worms Photo
is caused by bites from a filial worm and is transmitted by infected black flies that carry the larvae around from person to person. The larvae mature in the person's subcutaneous tissue and then the females can release 1000 new worms a day after mating. The worms then travel throughout the body, causing blindness, skin rashes, lesions, itching and depigmentation of the skin. Pesticides can be sprayed to kill the black flies, and medicine can be given to kill the larvae living in the tissue.

3. Schistosomiasis -

Schistosomiasis Parasitic Disease Photo
is caused by trematode flatworms. Freshwater snails release the larvae of the worms, which then penetrate human skin when they are in water. The larvae mature in the human blood stream and are passed out through urine or go on to infect the individual. The parasite can affect the bladder, kidneys, enlarge the liver and spleen, and cause intestinal damage.

More Neglected Diseases You've Never Heard Of on Page 2

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