First rabies case in Massachusetts for 75 years

A man has caught rabies from a bat in Massachusetts, and is now critically ill. It is the first time someone is known to have caught rabies in the state for 75 years. Continue reading


This Week in NTDs

An outbreak of Chikungunya in Delhi is accompanying an outbreak of dengue fever. Chikungunya is closely related to dengue and is carried by the same mosquito, but is far less common at the moment.

The Schistosomiasis Control Initiative came second in Give Well’s annual charity ratings. The SCI is also top of the list for Giving What We Can, a campaign founded by Oxford philosophy lecturer Toby Ord to persuade people to give a percentage of their earnings to charity.

Bangladesh has scrapped an Act which forced leprosy sufferers to live in institutions. Officials hope that social stigma attached to this treatable disease will be reduced, and people will be more willing to come forward for treatment.

And finally, it might be possible to treat Buruli ulcer with oral antibiotics, according to this paper in PLoS NTDs. At the moment, most Buruli cases are treated by surgical excision, requiring long periods in hospital.

Do NTDs ever get noticed by the general public?

Neglected tropical diseases rarely make it into public consciousness. HIV and malaria, two of the world’s biggest killers, have famous faces associated with them – sufferers such as Cheryl Cole, who contracted malaria last year, and campaigners such as Robbie Williams and Claudia Schiffer.

But occasionally, NTDs do appear in the media. See this vuvox to find out more.

Famous tropical disease sufferers

Dengue in Indonesia, from the perspective of a Western sufferer

Dom Rowland emerged from the Indonesian jungle in mid-September this year. The expedition he was with, BRINCC, charted the course of the Barito river on the island of Borneo. They spent six months removed from civilization, recording the flora and fauna of the forests – they even discovered a new species of butterfly. But at the end of the expedition, about three days after leaving the jungle, one of the team, Andrea, fell ill.Barito river, Borneo by GothPhil/Flickr Continue reading

GM mosquitos and other NTD links of the week

In the first of a regular feature, here’s a round up of NTD news from around the world.

News just in: researchers have genetically modified male mosquitos so that their offspring die at the larval stage. The BBC website article explains that this method has been tried before, but fails if the male GM mosquitos can’t compete with the wild ones. The new strain aren’t quite alpha male material, but they hope it will be close enough.

The Daily Mail report on the case of a woman whose uncontrollable libido turned out to be a symptom of rabies. Ignoring the picture in the article, this is a tragic case. Rabies can be prevented if a vaccine is given after infection, but before symptoms occur. Once symptoms appear, it is too late – only six people are thought to have survived a rabies infection, and these numbers are open to dispute.

Chagas disease (trypanosomiasis) may be more common in Texas than previously thought. The disease is a parasite, carried by “kissing bugs“. It is widespread in many parts of South and Central America, but seems to be creeping its way over the Mexican border.

And finally, a few weeks ago the Guardian published this lovely interview with Jimmy Carter. The Carter Center, set up by the former US President and his wife after he was booted out of office after a single term, was instrumental in pioneering a campaign to eradicate guinea worm which means that last year, there were just 1800 infections worldwide. The campaign was based on education about sanitation, rather than expensive drugs, and means that guinea worm may be eradicated within a few years.