Based on their name, you might think that neglected “tropical” diseases (NTDs) aren’t something American physicians would encounter often. While that may have been true in the past, there is a growing threat of tropical illnesses spreading through the U.S. Many factors may contribute to the rise in incidence, but the bottom line is a very real health threat that the American medical community may not be prepared to face.
Take the story of Maira Gutierrez, for example. A resident of the U.S. for over 30 years, she found out she was infected with Chagas, a neglected tropical disease, after she donated blood. For years, no medical professional could provide more than cursory information about her disease, nor prescribe a treatment. Just like her diagnosis, she felt “neglected” by the medical community. Gutierrez and other patients will be featured in a video as part of our upcoming Neglected Tropical Diseases Forum at Tulane University in Louisiana on May 15.
Researchers in Louisiana and across the nation are making strides to improve the treatment and understanding of diseases like leishmaniasis, dengue fever and Chagas. The forum will feature panel discussions on the topics of emerging NTDs and NTD research in Louisiana as well as the importance of federal support for NTD research. Considering Chagas affects over 300,000 Americans and costs the U.S. an estimated $1 billion annually in health care and lost productivity, these are issues that must be addressed. You can learn more from Research!America’s fact sheets on NTDs in the U.S. and Chagas disease.