The Poor Have More Parasites in the United States

The poor in the United States suffer from diseases and have parasites usually found in poor areas of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Such infections are known as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD), since they affect most impoverished people and public health officers and political leaders often ignore them despite the fact that they are extremely important in the medical field.

The article was published by the PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases medical journal in December and was entitled: “Poverty and Neglected Diseases in the ‘Other’ America.”

At least 23 percent of Americans living in poverty are exposed to parasitic worms producing the infection toxocariasis, mainly from dogs and cats. Because humans are not the worm’s final hosts, larvae are not able to grow inside them, so they wander erratically throughout the body causing inflammatory reactions. These worms also provoke pulmonary diseases similar to asthma, and liver and brain diseases.

Professor Peter Hotez from George Washington University claims that there is evidence that this type of parasites and other infections are common in the United States, principally among people living in rural and poor areas.

This infection is becoming the main cause of epilepsy in the Hispanic population in the United States, and it also provokes congenital birth defects among Mexican-Americans and African-Americans.

“Because these parasitic infections only occur among impoverished people and mostly underrepresented minorities in the US,” Hotez says, “I believe that there has been a lack of political will to study the problem”.