The following are for general information only.
Leishmaniasis* is caused by parasites of the genus Leishmania and transmitted by the bite of certain species of sand fly.
The disease is endemic to 88 countries around the world. It is estimated that 11 million people are currently infected and there are about 2 million new cases each year.
Leishmaniasis has 3 forms: The visceral form (fever, substantial weight loss, visceral swelling, anaemia) is usually fatal without treatment. The mucocutaneous form (partial/total destruction of mucose membranes of nose, mouth, throat) can be highly disabling and disfiguring. The Cutaneous form (skin ulcers -sometimes large numbers- on exposed parts of the body such as the face, arms and legs.) can be permanently scarring, disfiguring, and disabiling.
*See Leishmaniasis at the CDC
Malaria is endemic to a broad band that wraps the globe at the equator. The disease strikes roughly 350 to 500 million people each year and causes over 1 million deaths. Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable. Malaria is an enormous public health problem.
Malaria can manifest in a wide range of symptoms: from asymptomatic (no symptoms), to the classic symptoms (fever, chills, sweating, headaches, muscle pains), to serious complications (cerebral malaria, anemia, kidney failure) that can be fatal.
*See Malaria at the CDC
American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas Disease)* is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted to humans primarily by the blood-sucking, triatomine bug.
Chagas disease is endemic to Latin American where 18 million are infected. It is the single most common cause of congestive heart failure and sudden death in the world. It is the leading cause of death among young-to-middle-age adults in endemic areas of South America. It kills almost 50,000 people a year.
Chagas Disease occurs in two phases. The acute phase (aches, fatique, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, localized edema, swollen glands) occurs the first few weeks or months of infection. The person may not be notice as the symptoms are not unique to Chagas Disease. The disabling and life-threatening chronic phase (cardiomyopathy, heart failure, altered heart rate or rhythm, cardiac arrest, megaesophagus, megacolon) may last for decades or for life.
*See Chagas Disease at the CDC
African Trypanosomasis* (African Sleeping Sickness) is caused by the parasites Trypanosoma brucei gambiense and Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense. It is transmitted by the bite of an infected Tsetse fly.
The disease is confined to 36 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. It occurs mostly in remote areas and affects populations with no or limited access to health services.
Tsetse fly bites are painful and develop into a red sore. Fever, severe headaches, irritability, extreme fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and aching muscles and joints are common symptoms. Progressive confusion, personality changes, slurred speech, seizures, and difficulty in walking and talking occur when infection has invaded the central nervous system. If untreated, infection becomes worse and death will occur.
*See African Trypanosomasis at the CDC
Schistosomiasis* (Bilharzia) is caused by parasitic worms of the genus Schistosoma. Humans are primarily infected while bathing, swimming, washing, etc., in waters inhabited by certain fresh-water snails.
It is estimated that 200 million people are infected world-wide. The disease is occurs in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southern China, and Southeast Asia.
Infection can lead to bladder, ureter, kidney, spleen, and intestinal damage. Internal bleeding from abdominal blood vessels can be fatal. In advanced cases, bladder cancer is common. Children are especially vulnerable to infection.
*See Schistosomiasis at the CDC
Cryptosporidiosis* is caused by parasites of the genus Cryptosporidium. Infection occurs when one ingests Cryptosporidium. It is found in soil, food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with infected human or animal feces. "Crypto" can survive for days in a chlorinated swimming pool.
In the United States, Cryptosporidium, is one of the most common causes of waterborne disease in humans. The parasite can be found in drinking water and recreational water throughout the United States and the world.
Symptoms of cryptosporidiosis are diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, stomach cramps, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually last 1 or 2 weeks in persons with healthy immune systems. Those with compromised immune systems (HIV/AIDS, cancer, and transplant patients) are at much greater risk. Symptoms can be more severe and could develop into a life-threatening illness.
*See Cryptosporidiosis at the CDC
Lymphatic filariasis*(elephantiasis) is a disease caused by certain species of filarial worms. It is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes.
Currently, the disease is present in more than 80 countries and more than 120 million humans are infected. Of these, over 40 million are disfigured and seriously incapacitated. Two thirds of those infected live in Africa and India. The remaining live in the Americas, South Asia, and the Pacific. There is a continual rise in the prevalence of Lymphatic filariasis in areas where it is well-established.
*See Lymphatic filariasis at the CDC