THURSDAY, May 8, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Five types of
parasitic infections have just been labeled priorities for public
health action by U.S. health officials.
"Parasitic infections affect millions around the world causing
seizures, blindness, infertility, heart failure, and even death,"
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention, said in an agency news release Thursday.
"They're more common in the U.S. than people realize and yet
there is so much we don't know about them. We need research to
learn more about these infections and action to better prevent and
treat them," Frieden added.
The five neglected parasitic infections in the United States
are: Chagas disease, cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis,
and trichomoniasis. All were targeted based on the number of people
infected, the severity of the illnesses, and the ability to prevent
and treat them, the CDC said.
While parasitic infections can sometimes affect millions of
people, they often cause few symptoms and go unnoticed. In a
special supplement to the
American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, CDC
experts noted the large numbers of Americans who may be at
risk: More than 300,000 people are infected with
Trypanosoma cruzi, an insect-borne parasite that causes
Chagas disease, and more than 300 infected babies are born every
year.There are at least 1,000 hospitalizations for symptomatic
cysticercosis, a tissue infection by the pork tapeworm.At least 14 percent of the U.S. population has been exposed to
Toxocara, the parasite that causes toxocariasis, a parasitic
infection from canine and feline roundworm, and each year at least
70 people -- most of them children -- are blinded by resulting eye
disease.More than 60 million people are chronically infected with
Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis.
New infections in pregnant women can cause birth defects, and
infections in people with weakened immune systems can be
deadly.Trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted disease, can cause
pregnancy problems and increase the risk of other sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV. The
Trichomonasparasite is extremely common, affecting 3.7
million people, but is easily treatable.
The CDC experts noted that most parasitic infections can be
prevented and many are treatable. But they most often go
undiagnosed and untreated because people don't know they are at
risk or infected, and many doctors, unfamiliar with these
infections, fail to diagnose or treat them properly, they
"The [neglected parasitic infections] in the United States are
part of the global burden of parasitic diseases, and strategies
that reduce or eliminate them in the United States can someday be
applied globally," the authors noted in the news release.
The CDC actions to protect people from these parasitic
infections include: increasing public and physician awareness;
improving diagnosis methods; providing treatment advice, including
distribution of otherwise unavailable drugs; and analyzing data to
learn more about the infections.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about