Global & Disaster Medicine

WHO’s overview of neglected tropical diseases (NTD)


Below is a short description of the neglected tropical diseases:

Dengue: mosquito-borne viral disease causing flu-like illness. Occasionally develops into a lethal complication called severe dengue.

Rabies: viral disease transmitted to humans through the bites of infected dogs. Invariably fatal once symptoms develop.

Trachoma: infection transmitted through direct contact with eye or nasal discharge. Causes irreversible corneal opacities and blindness.

Buruli ulcer: debilitating skin infection causing severe destruction of the skin, bone and soft tissue.

Yaws: chronic bacterial infection affecting mainly the skin and bone.

Leprosy: caused by infection mainly of the skin, peripheral nerves, mucosa of the upper respiratory tract and eyes.

Chagas disease: infection transmitted through contact with vector insects, ingestion of contaminated food, infected blood transfusion, congenital transmission, organ transplantation or laboratory accidents.

Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness): parasitic infection spread by bites of tsetse flies. Almost 100% fatal without prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Leishmaniases: transmitted through the bites of infected female sandflies. In its most severe (visceral) form, it attacks the internal organs. The most prevalent (cutaneous) form causes face ulcers, disfiguring scars and disability.

Taeniasis and neurocysticercosis: infection by adult tapeworms in human intestines; cysticercosis occurs when humans ingest tapeworm eggs that develop as larvae in tissues.

Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease): nematode infection transmitted by drinking-water contaminated with parasite-infected water fleas.

Echinococcosis: infection caused by larval stages of tapeworms forming pathogenic cysts. Transmitted to humans through ingestion of eggs, shed in faeces of dogs and wild animals.

Foodborne trematodiases: infection acquired by consuming fish, vegetables and crustaceans contaminated with larval parasites.

Lymphatic filariasis: Infection transmitted by mosquitoes causing abnormal enlargement of limbs and genitals from adult worms inhabiting and reproducing in the lymphatic system.

Mycetoma: debilitating, disabling bacterial/fungal skin infection thought to be caused by the inoculation of fungi or bacteria into the subcutaneous tissue.

Onchocerciasis (river blindness): parasitic eye and skin disease, transmitted by the bite of infected blackflies. Causes severe itching and eye lesions, leading to visual impairment and permanent blindness.

Schistosomiasis: larval worm infection. Transmission occurs when larval forms released by freshwater snails penetrate human skin during contact with infested water.

Soil-transmitted helminthiases: group of intestinal helminth infections transmitted through soil contaminated by human faeces.

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