Can America Cope With A Resurgence Of Tropical Disease?

For half of a day each week, one wing of the Smith Clinic’s third floor in Houston is transformed into a tropical medicine clinic, dealing with all types of infectious diseases for anyone who strolls through the door. Since it opened in 2011, Woc-Colburn and her colleagues have treated from dengue and chikungunya to river blindness and cutaneous leishmaniasis.

Their patients are not globetrotting travelers, bringing incredible diseases back home. The Smith Clinic is a safety-net provider, the last resort for healthcare for people on low incomes and without insurance. A lot of their patients haven’t still left the Houston area for a long time. This shows that what Woc-Colburn views in the medical clinic might be just the industry leading of the gathering crisis. Diseases once associated with ‘elsewhere’ are increasingly being within the southern states of the USA. Poverty is a critical factor.

But the American South’s hot and humid environment, the influx of insects that carry diseases, and the ever-increasing motion of humans have combined with the region’s high poverty levels to create a perfect surprise of disease. While we might already have seen some of the storm’s effects, the worst has yet to arrive.

Tropical diseases have been affecting people in the American South as long as humans have been living there. In 2003, archaeologists uncovered that mummified remains in the Rio Grande Valley from more than 1,000 years ago demonstrated indicators of Chagas disease. Transatlantic trade brought the mosquito Aedes aegypti over from Africa, and it thrived in the long, humid summers south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

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Human holidaymakers brought pathogens that may be transmitted by imported and native mosquitoes. As a total result, Western settlers in THE UNITED STATES were cut by repeated epidemics of malaria down, yellow fever and dengue. Drainage and sanitation projects in the 19th century eliminated many mosquito breeding grounds, but epidemics continued. The last yellowish fever outbreak in the USA strike New Orleans in 1905, killing nearly 1,000 people. Once intense government-funded eradication programs halted local malaria transmission, the optimism of the 1950s and early 1960s – combined with the development of life-saving antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs – made infectious diseases appear like historic relics.

Lucas Blanton, an infectious disease physician at the University of Texas Medical Branch. So the quantity of doctors specializing in infectious disease and parasitology dwindled, as did government investment in the public health infrastructure targeted at fight them. As exotic diseases faded from medical awareness in the wealthy countries of the world, in addition they vanished from open public understanding.

By the dawn of the millennium, most tropical diseases got become profoundly neglected, although many of them were still rife in low-income countries. Perhaps this entrenched the idea that they were distant problems: if Americans thought about them in any way, it was as diseases of other countries a long way away, not something to be found in their own backyards. Although tourists and immigrants sometimes needed to treat, exotic disease was essentially a thing of the past for the united states. For all those in the know, there were warning signs.

Not enough to set alarm bells ringing, but signs nevertheless that something serious was planned. Pediatrician Morven Edwards, a soft-spoken petite woman in her 60’s, can be an infectious disease consultant at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. She’s the physician, other doctors call when they can not figure out what’s going on using their patients. This year 2010, she required a call from a local pediatrician whose 17-year-old patient acquired tested positive for Chagas disease after donating bloodstream for her high school blood drive.