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									Neglected Infections of
Poverty in the United States
Neglected Infections of Poverty are a group of parasitic,
bacterial, and viral infections that:
 •	 disproportionately affect impoverished groups,
 •	 cause illness in a significant number of people, and
 •	 receive limited attention in tracking, prevention, and treatment.

                                                                                          Playing in soil contaminated with the feces of
                                                                                          infected dogs and cats can expose children to
The Major Neglected Infections of Poverty                                                 the roundworm Toxocara

 Infection                              Negative Health Consequences
 Chagas disease                         Heart failure, stroke, gastrointestinal disease, and sudden death

 Cysticercosis                          Epilepsy and death

 Congenital Cytomegalovirus             Hearing loss, vision loss, and developmental disabilities

 Toxocariasis                           Blindness and damage to internal organs

 Toxoplasmosis                          Eye disease and developmental disabilities

 Trichomoniasis                         Infertility in women, pre-term pregnancies, and low-birth weight

How to protect people:                                             CDC’s Role
These infections are a widespread problem, yet our                 CDC has been instrumental in furthering the understanding
understanding of them is limited. To determine the best            of these infections by:
public health recommendations, we need:
                                                                     •	 identifying risk factors
ƒ Improved Tracking                                                  •	 providing clinical consultations to physicians
   A clearer picture of who, how many individuals, and
   where people are being infected is needed, so                     •	 providing	lab	support	for	confirmatory	testing
   doctors can determine who should be screened or                   •	 developing and validating tests to detect infections
   tested for an infection.
                                                                     •	 publishing recommendations for evaluation & treatment
ƒ Improved Testing & Treatment                                       •	 educating health professionals and the public
   Improving tests currently used can help detect
   infections early and accurately. Improved                       The Goal
   treatments are also needed because drug
   resistance, drug allergies, and harsh side effects may          With improved tracking, testing, treatment, prevention, and
   keep people from continuing the treatment                       research the goal is to:
   they need.                                                        •	 reduce illness & death associated with the infections
ƒ Improved Prevention                                                •	 develop more effective drugs
   Improved prevention and control efforts are needed
                                                                     •	 increase early detection of infections
   because many of these infections can be prevented
   with the proper education, screening, and                         •	 determine the best strategies for interventions
   preventive methods.
                                                                     •	 increase understanding of these illnesses
ƒ More Research                                                      •	 educate physicians and the public about risk factors,
   More research is needed to understand why and                        prevention, diagnosis and treatment
   how poverty puts people at risk for these infections,
   in addition to understanding other aspects of the

                         National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases                                              1
  How are these infections related to poverty?
  While each of these infections has distinct characteristics, they all affect impoverished populations to a disproportionate
  degree. There is still much to learn about the characteristics of poverty (social, cultural, geographic) that put people at risk
  for these neglected infections. However, it is clear that the negative health consequences of the infections can contribute to
  economic, social, and emotional hardships for individuals and families.

  Examples of how these neglected infections are related to poverty

  Those living in poverty may live in         Those living in poverty may not have         Toxoplasmosis and congenital
  environments with contaminated              the funds to seek medical care when          cytomegalovirus can both result in
  playgrounds and may not have                symptoms arise and are more likely to        birth defects causing developmental
  access to or funds for veterinary care      face barriers in accessing the health        and cognitive disabilities. Such
  for their dogs or cats, making them         care system, allowing the infection to       disabilities can result in both an
  more likely to acquire toxocariasis.        progress and cause severe damage.            economic and emotional drain on
                                              For instance, if Chagas disease is           families attempting to provide the
                                              caught early, it can be treated and          extra care required for their child.
                                              the adverse health consequences
                                              such as severe heart disease can be
                                              avoided or managed.

  Why care about these neglected infections of poverty?
  For the 10 year-old girl possibly facing blindness, the child born with a preventable developmental disability, the woman
  unable to have children, and the father facing a long battle with heart disease, these neglected infections are important.
  With improved tracking, testing, treatment, and prevention, negative health outcomes associated with these infections can
  be avoided or managed.

                                              For more information:

                            National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases                                      2

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