Central Asia's hidden burden of neglected tropical diseases

September 27, 2011

The open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases will publish an article emphasizing the rising burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in Central Asia on Tuesday, Sept. 27th. According to the article's co-authors, Dr. Peter Hotez, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Dr. Ken Alibek of Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan, the region continues to suffer from a post-Soviet economic breakdown that may have contributed to a re-emergence of several NTDs in the area, especially among its most economically disadvantaged groups.

Specifically, the five mostly landlocked Central Asian countries created after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union -- Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- became increasingly vulnerable to NTDs due to a deterioration of and infrastructure. Among the prevalent diseases profiled in the article, the following was highlighted:

  • A study of rural primary schools in southwestern Kyrgyzstan found that many of the children had at least one soil-transmitted helminth infection. Developmental and cognitive delays have been associated in children with these infections, leading to decreased school attendance and low wages earned as adults. In Uzbekistan, and likely in other Central Asian countries, soil-transmitted helminth infections have been responsible for losses in economic productivity.
  • After the decentralization of farming and , small farms in Central Asia were left largely without veterinary inspection, leading to the deterioration of veterinary public health and the rise of zoonotic, or animal-borne, helminth infections. In four of the Central Asian nations, cystic echinococcosis -- a tapeworm infection spread by dogs and sheep -- has increased at least four-fold and is thought to be vastly under-reported. There has also been an alarming increase in pediatric cases of this and other zoonotic helminth infections.
  • Despite a considerable decrease in reported malaria cases as a result of indoor residual spraying and mass drug administration of anti-malaria drugs, a large portion of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan populations is still at risk for Plasmodium vivax malaria. In Tajikistan, the malaria epidemic is fueled by human migrations from Afghanistan, thwarting efforts to eliminate malaria in neighboring countries.
Dr. Hotez, who also serves as the director of the Sabin Vaccine Institute & Texas Children's Center for Vaccine Development and was recently named the founding dean of the first national school of tropical medicine, located at Baylor College of Medicine, said, "There appears to be an overall absence of detailed information on the prevalence of many of these neglected diseases in Central Asia."

Hotez and Alibek also suggest that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria should consider how to best integrate NTDs into their control and elimination programs in order to help ease the burden caused by NTDs.

Explore further: Greater R&D funding needed to fight diseases affecting world's poor

More information: Hotez PJ, Alibek K (2011) Central Asia's Hidden Burden of Neglected Tropical Diseases. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 5(9): e1224. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001224

Related Stories

Greater R&D funding needed to fight diseases affecting world's poor

June 21, 2011
Despite significant advancements in increasing distribution and development of vaccines against childhood killer diseases – including pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, and Haemophilus influenzae Type B – global efforts ...

Evidence shows NTD control can help in the fight against HIV/AIDS

July 27, 2011
There is a growing body of evidence revealing the connection between neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and HIV/AIDS, prompting experts to call for greater integration of national NTD treatment programs with HIV/AIDS initiatives.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.