Friday, March 16, 2007

Rare Tropical Diseases - An Expose!

I remember when I was a kid - I used to read the FHM. Now being half-married... the FHM's are hidden under the bed (alongside Scope, ooo). And I don't get to read them that often :)

But the memories persist. And one of those memories is of a lesser-known feature they used to run: Rare Tropical Disease of the Month. Mmmm. Tasty. Which got me thinking about rare tropical diseases.

Wikipedia defines them as:

Tropical diseases are infectious diseases that either occur uniquely in tropical and subtropical regions (which is rare) or, more commonly, are either more widespread in the tropics or more difficult to prevent or control.

Since the advent of air travel, people more frequently visit these regions and contract many of these diseases, most notably malaria and hepatitis. Any nontropical condition however should never be overlooked in those returning from the tropics.

The world's most knowledgeable website goes onto to list them! Joy!

The Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) of the World Health Organization focuses on neglected infectious diseases that disproportionally affect poor and marginalized populations. The current disease portfolio includes the following ten:

*African trypanosomiasis
*Dengue fever
*Chagas disease
*Lymphatic filariasis

Although leprosy and tuberculosis are not exclusively tropical diseases (they have occurred everywhere), their highest incidence in the tropics justify its inclusion. Cholera and yellow fever also fall into this category.

Some tropical diseases are very rare, but may occur in sudden epidemics, such as the Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Lassa fever and the Marburg virus. There are hundreds of different tropical diseases which are less known or rarer, but that, nonetheless, have importance for public health, such as:

*Oropouche virus
*West Nile disease
*Lábrea fever
*Rocio disease
*Mapucho hemorrhagic fever
*Trachoma Guinea worm
*Chikungunya etc.

Yikes. Sounds sore. I think we need to get SA Doc onto this. No more snotty noses. Rare Tropical Diseases. An Expose! Yes!

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Marcie Hascall Clark said...

One tropical disease that is making headway into the US is leishmaniasis.
My husband came back from Iraq with this and it went undiagnosed. Due to it's ability to remain latent for years before showing itself it's hard to know how many others have come back with it and don't know it yet. Although there is a ban on blood donations for people who have travelled to Iraq or Afghanistan for a year it has already been ignored by the military itself.
US medical practitioners should be on the lookout for this not so easy to diagnose or treat disease.

Andy Hadfield said...

That's some interesting feedback Marcie... I'll get SA Doc to look it up and we'll educate some All Scrubbed readers...

SA Doc said...

Hope you like our quick summary on leishmaniasis... Written in a style to educate the general public more than anything.