The World Neglected Tropical Diseases Day on January 30 serves as an opportunity to raise awareness, promote advocacy, and mobilize resources to combat these diseases and alleviate the suffering they cause. Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a group of diverse infectious diseases primarily affecting the world’s poorest populations in tropical and subtropical regions. They often cause significant disability, long-term suffering, and socioeconomic burden.
20 conditions belong to the diverse group of NTDs that are mainly prevalent in tropical areas, where they affect more than 1 billion people who live in impoverished communities. They are caused by a variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and toxins. Still listed are chikungunya, dengue, and Chagas disease.
altona Diagnostics offers a range of ready-to-use CE-marked test kits for the detection of different NTDs. Using real-time PCR technology, these kits can identify the presence of chikungunya virus, dengue virus, and Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. These test kits are available within the altona RealStar® product line.
Dengue fever is caused by four closely related variants (DEN-1, DEN-2, DEN-3, and DEN-4), transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, and can lead to severe complications. Chikungunya, also spread by Aedes mosquitoes, causes high fever and debilitating joint pain. Despite being neglected tropical diseases, efforts are being made to raise awareness, conduct research, and implement preventive measures. In Europe, globalization and climate change have led to the emergence of these diseases, resulting in challenges for managing outbreaks.
Chagas disease, also known as American Trypanosomiasis, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected triatomine bugs, also known as “kissing bugs.” Chagas disease affects millions of people, mainly in impoverished rural areas of Latin America. The initial acute phase of the disease may exhibit flu-like symptoms, while the chronic phase can lead to severe cardiac and gastrointestinal complications, leading to disability or even death. Despite its significant impact on public health, Chagas disease remains largely overlooked and receives limited attention and resources.
Chagas disease not only affects adults but also poses a significant threat to pregnant women and their unborn children. Congenital Chagas disease occurs when the infection is transmitted from an infected mother to her baby during pregnancy or childbirth. This transmission can lead to serious health consequences for the child, including developmental delays, heart abnormalities, low birth weight, and even death. The impact of congenital Chagas disease is particularly alarming in endemic regions of Latin America, where it remains a silent and often undiagnosed condition. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent or mitigate the long-term effects on children’s health, underscoring the need for increased awareness, improved prenatal care, and effective strategies to reduce transmission rates.
By focusing on preventing congenital Chagas disease, we can safeguard the well-being of the most vulnerable population and strive towards the elimination of this neglected tropical disease.