October 29, 2009

'Neglected Infections' Resurface Among America's Poor

By PBS.org

If you thought Chagas Disease was just a problem in Latin America, think again.

With the growing immigrant population, it is an increasingly common illness in this country, but is often overlooked by American doctors who may have never seen the disease during their training. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are 300,000 people with Chagas Disease in this country.

Because the disease can be transmitted through blood transfusions, blood banks routinely test donor blood. Patients who have the disease may not have symptoms for years, by which time irreversible damage to the heart has occurred.

The challenge is that there are very few effective drugs to treat Chagas Disease, and sadly, very little research is being done to develop better therapies.

In the attached video, you can learn more about this and other neglected infections that take their toll on America's poor.

Investigators at the BioScience Center have teamed up with Chagas Disease experts in Chicago and Argentina to develop novel treatments, including development of a vaccine that could help clear the infection during the chronic, slowly-progressive phase of the illness.

To learn how you can help support this important work, contact the Director of the BSC.