Neglected Tropical Diseases

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs)  have been highlighted in the Gates Foundation annual letter.

An overlooked aspect of NTDs is their neurologic manifestations. A recent research report in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences brings these little-known effects to the forefront.

The neglected tropical diseases with neurological symptoms include:

  1. Buruli ulcer
  2. Chagas disease
  3. Cysticercosis
  4. Dengue
  5. Dracunculiasis
  6. Echinococcosis
  7. Filariasis
  8. Soil-transmitted Helminthes
  9. Leishmaniasis
  10. Leprosy
  11. Onchocerciasis
  12. Rabies
  13. Schistosomiasis
  14. Trachoma
  15. Foodborne Trematodiasis
  16. Human African Trypanosomiasis

Although tropical diseases are most commonly associated with high fever, severe headaches, joint and muscle pain, rash, mild bleeding, ulcers, etc., they also may affect a person’s nervous system.

The lead author Farrah J. Mateen, from the Massachusetts General Hospital, writes,

The NTDs have been reported to affect every level of the neuraxis.
NTDs may cause nervous system involvement through a variety of pathogenic mechanisms.
For most NTDs, only limited data is available on treatment of neurologic manifestations.

The neurological complications from the neglected tropical diseases make the hardship on the victims even more severe, because the effects of nerve damage can be permanent, even after the initial cause of the disease is terminated.

As an aside, because these tropical diseases are rarely witnessed in the more affluent countries, they can contribute to the poverty of areas with minimal healthcare facilities by impacting child growth and intelligence along with reducing the work and productivity of adults.

Diabetes, vitamin deficiency, alcoholism, auto-immune diseases, medications, along with a myriad of other possible factors are leading causes of neuropathy in the United States, this research report illustrates many other alternative diseases can be responsible for neuropathies.







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