Ethics in Medicine

Poverty in America Leads to Third World Diseases

Kristen Sparrow • August 21, 2012

At least we know we’re free.
Horrifying story from the NYTimes about poverty rates (2.8 million children living on less than $2.00 a day!!!!) and that it’s taking its toll.  I can’t tell you how horrifying this is, these are diseases we learned about in Medical School that were the plague of the third world, Africa, India etc…  Where is our media?? Where is the attention paid to this?  Appalling.  And then we wonder why our schools are failing, for example.  Bah.

Poverty takes many tolls, but in the United States, one of the most tragic has been its tight link with a group of infections known as the neglected tropical diseases, which we ordinarily think of as confined to developing countries.
Outbreaks of dengue fever, a mosquito-transmitted viral infection that is endemic to Mexico and Central America, have been reported in South Texas. Then there is cysticercosis, a parasitic infection caused by a larval pork tapeworm that leads to seizures and epilepsy; toxocariasis, another parasitic infection that causes asthma and neurological problems; cutaneous leishmaniasis, a disfiguring skin infection transmitted by sand flies; and murine typhus, a bacterial infection transmitted by fleas and often linked to rodent infestations.
Among the more frightening is Chagas disease. Transmitted by a “kissing bug” that resembles a cockroach but with the ability to feed on human blood, it is a leading cause of heart failure and sudden death throughout Latin America. It is an especially virulent scourge among pregnant women, who can pass the disease on to their babies. Just last month, the first case of congenital Chagas disease in the United States was reported.