7 Neglected Diseases You've Never Heard Of

4. Lymphatic Filariasis -

is a parasitic disease, and known in its worst form as Elephantiasis. After the Gates Foundation gave a $20 million boost to fight this disease, 6.6 million newborns and 2.2 adults were saved from catching it and 9.5 million people were able to avoid Elephantiasis. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and has seen a rise in incidence due to the rapid growth of cities. Aside from enlarged arms and legs, the disease also causes internal damage to kidneys and lymphatic system, not to mention the painful stigma associated with carrying the disease. Most people get the disease in childhood, but don't show symptoms for several years and some never show outward symptoms. Since the parasite is spread through mosquito bites, its important to treat those with the disease so their infected blood cannot be passed onto those without it.

5. Trichuriasis -

easily affects children if they consume soil that contains the whipworms, which then embed themselves in the walls of the large intestine and stay there for several years. The parasite can cause abdominal pain, anorexia and diarrhea, as well as, weight loss, anemia and potentially retarded growth. The disease is found in the tropics as well as the southern US. Treatment can kill the parasites within just a few days.

6. Hookworm -

is yet another neglected parasite that causes abdominal pain and diarrhea and is transmitted either through walking through infected soil or ingesting infected soil. 1.3 billion people were estimated to be infected with hookworms globally in 2002. These hookworms really work hard to get into your system - typically by entering bare feet, where they then travel to the lungs and the respiratory tract to the mouth where they are swallowed, and then enter the intestines. Here, at home in the intestines, the worms attach to the intestine wall and suck blood. Like many of these parasitic diseases, those infected have abdominal pain, loss of appetite, anemia and even potentially stunted growth and mental development.

7. Ascariasis -

And rounding out the list we have one more worm infection, the roundworm, that at maturity can reach 16 inches in length. This is one of the most common roundworm infections, with roughly 1/4 of the world's population infected. Many people infected have few to no symptoms if there are only a few worms in the intestines. If the worms travel to the lungs, there might be an associated cough, wheezing or shortness of breath. Other symptoms include abdominal pains, nausea and diarrhea. Once again, this parasite is also transmitted through consuming infected soil, such as on vegetables, and also travel through your lungs, into your mouth and back down when you swallow them into your stomach and small intestine.

More about the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation Grant

Part of the grant will go towards outreach and education about these neglected diseases, and the other part will go towards securing cheaper prices on the drugs by purchasing in bulk, roughly 50 cents per person. The medicine for all 7 diseases can be given in a four-part "cocktail." The Foundation hopes to "slash the burden of neglected tropical diseases" by 2020.

As global temperatures continue to rise, and if we don't begin to get a handle on some of these diseases, we can only expect that their locations will begin to expand. Many of these diseases listed currently each infect a billion people or more, some even as much as 1/4 the global population. Its great that we're setting our sites on getting that number down. Next on the list - curing Sleeping Sickness, Visceral Leishmaniasis and Chagas Disease. :Nature
More on Disease Vectors and Climate Change
New Worries About Climate Change-Induced Spread of Infectious Diseases
The Ticks Have It: Climate Change Not to Blame For More Diseases?
World Health Organization: Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments
More People, More Diseases

Tags: Antibiotics | Developing Nations | Diseases | Poverty

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