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CDC Renews Battle Against Parasitic Infections

May 10, 2014 08:30 PM EDT
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Parasitic infections are more common in the United States than you may think. So common, in-fact, that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has labeled five types of parasitic infections priorities for immediate public health action.

Thursday the CDC declared a new initiative to combat parasitic infections in the US, saying that parasite-borne diseases often go unnoticed or misdiagnosed.

According to the CDC, Chagas disease, symptomatic cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis, are five parasite-borne diseases currently affecting millions of people in the US.

These diseases are largely easily treatable, and awareness among physicians and the public about them is one of the most important goals of the new CDC initiative.

"The perception that parasitic diseases are no longer relevant or important is a major impediment to implementing currently available control and prevention strategies," CDC investigators noted in a supplemental report recently published as part of a series of studies in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

According to the report, the five parasitic diseases have remained largely unnoticed by the general public because they mainly impact Americans who live in extreme poverty and degraded urban areas which lack access to health services or the proper education to identify these illnesses.

CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement Thursday that research to learn more about parasitic infections have been recently lacking, even though these "infections affect millions around the world causing seizures, blindness, infertility, heart failure, and even death."

"We need research to learn more about these infections and action to better prevent and treat them," said Frieden.

According to the CDC announcement, federally funded  experiments are now aiming to improve diagnostic testing for parasitic infections. Treatment advisory and existing data will also reportedly be getting a second look to ensure appropriate options are widely available to patients.

The CDC announcement was made on May 8.

"Neglected Parasitic Infections in the United States: Needs and Opportunities," was published in The American journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

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