News

Poverty Source of Tropical Infections in Texas, Gulf of Mexico

A new study examines the rising incidence of highly infectious tropical diseases in a number of impoverished communities outside of the tropics, and recommends stepped-up surveillance and treatment of infected groups. The researchers focused on south and southwestern U.S. states and Mexico.

Debilitating tropical infections


“Chagas is an infectious disease transmitted by the kissing bug. The kissing bug looks a little bit like a cockroach but it has the ability to feed on blood and it lives in the very poor quality dwellings,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine in Texas.

He says a serious heart infection caused by the chagas trypanosome parasite now affects a million people in the United States and more than six million in Mexico.

But he and his colleagues believe that the disease is often overlooked. “It is a disease that could be associated with severe heart disease, often times aneurisms, even electrical disturbances and sudden death. So that if someone dies from what often times physicians or health care providers in Texas might think is a heart attack - it’s in fact chagas disease,” Hotez explained.

Emerging health problem


Researchers say they are trying to understand the full extent of many of the debilitating tropical infections in the region. For example, cysticercosis is now one of the major causes of epilepsy in children in Texas and California. The report notes that another tropical disease, dengue fever, is an emerging problem from Texas to Florida.

“It's called bone break fever. It causes severe pain in the joints and bones and rash - it’s a very severe fever, lasts for seven days and totally lays you out [severely weakens you],” said Dr. Dan Stinchcomb, chief executive officer of Inviragen, which is developing a vaccine against the multiple dengue viruses. "In order for a vaccine to be safe and effective, it has to be able to induce a neutralizing antibody response - an antiboyd resp[onsde that will knock out four different viruses simultaneously," he said.

Researchers recommend developing a new generation of diagnostics and drugs to detect and control tropical diseases in the U.S. Dr. Hotez says there is also an urgent need to educate public health workers, cardiologists, and obstetricians about the growing incidence of these neglected infections.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs