Neglected Tropical Diseases: Background, Responses, and Issues for Congress [January 21, 2011]   [open pdf - 2MB]

"Over the past decade, global health has become a priority in U.S. foreign policy, and U.S. funding for related efforts has more than tripled. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), an important focus of U.S. global health assistance, may come under scrutiny as the 112th Congress debates spending levels for ongoing global health programs. NTDs are a group of 17 diseases that are found primarily among the poorest people in 149 countries and territories. Estimates indicate that some 2 billion people are at risk of contracting an NTD, of whom more than 1 billion people are afflicted with one or more. Roughly 534,000 people are believed to be killed by an NTD annually. Although these diseases are concentrated among the world's poor, population shifts and climate change increase the vulnerability of the United States to some of these diseases, particularly Chagas disease and dengue. While blood centers test for Chagas, some health experts believe that several cases remain undiagnosed in the United States and that Chagas stands as an undetected cause of heart disease and stroke. Some observers are concerned about scientists' expectations that mosquitoes capable of spreading dengue fever are gradually spreading across the United States, particularly because no vaccine or treatment exists for this disease. In addition, travelers from industrialized countries are increasingly contracting NTDs such as schistosomiasis while engaged in tourism. These cases are usually identified once tourists develop severe, acute infection or other unusual problems."

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CRS Report for Congress, R41607
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