Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD): Whipworm

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

END7 at NU is a budding student group at Northeastern that is in the process of becoming official. END7 at NU is a chapter of the larger nonprofit, END7, which is working to eliminate seven neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) by the year 2020. One in six people in the world are living with NTDs, which are different kinds of parasitic or bacterial diseases infecting their bodies. The effect is detrimental at best — deadly at worst — and perpetuates the poverty cycle in developing countries; children are prevented from attending schools and adults are prevented from working. The disabilities associated with NTDs are stigmatized within many rural communities and isolate those with poor health. Using mass drug administration techniques, the end of NTDs can be achieved. One packet of pills each year treats and protects children and adults from all seven NTDs. The medicine is donated by large pharmaceutical companies, and it costs only 50 cents per packet to distribute. Less than a dollar can protect a child from debilitating diseases for one year. END7 is working to increase awareness of NTDs in the developed world, raise funds to administer the drugs, and encourage the leaders of the world to take a stand against this injustice. If we all join in the fight, “Together we can see the end.”

If you want to help or get involved, visit: http://www.end7.org/support

 

Whipworm is the commonly known name of the intestinal parasite Trichuris trichiura, which causes trichuriasis upon infection of the human large intestine.  The worm, which resembles a whip, infects those who ingest its eggs, which are typically found in dry food goods (eggs are spread through the feces of infected individuals). Whipworm results in no symptoms in the case of a light infection, and frequent, painful passage of stool in the case of a heavy infection.  Growth retardation and impaired cognitive development can also occur with heavy infection, particularly in children [1].

Trichuriasis is spread in warm and humid climates, and places in which sanitation and hygiene are poor.  Anyone in these regions is at risk of infection if contaminated soil enters the mouth or if produce that has not been properly cleaned and prepared is consumed.  There are an estimated 1 billion human infections of trichuriasis worldwide, with most occurring in the tropical zones within Asia, Africa and South America [2].

Diagnosis and treatment of trichuriasis are possible and effective.  Diagnosis can be made via inspection of a stool sample under a microscope and identification of whipworm eggs.  The disease can be treated in one to three days with oral medication.  Preventive treatment is offered to high-risk groups (young children, women of childbearing age and other at-risk adults).  Preventive treatment is where treatment is offered regardless of diagnosis status because of the high risk of infection in certain areas of developing countries.  The same theory applies to mass drug administration, in which entire risk groups are treated for several neglected tropical diseases at the same time.  This is possible due to the safe and inexpensive nature of the drugs used.

 

Will Secor

Biology ’15

 

References:

1. Parasites – Trichuriasis.  (2013, January 10).  Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Retrieved April 1, 2014 from http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/whipworm/gen_info/faqs.html

2.  Crompton, D.W.T.  (1999, June).  How Much Human Helminthiasis Is There in the World?  Retrieved April 1, 2014 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3285768

1. Ahorlu, C. K., Dunyo, S. K., Koram, K. A., Nkrumah, F. K., Aagaard-Hansen, J., & Simonsen, P. E. (1999, October 15). Lymphatic filariasis related perceptions and practices on the coast of Ghana: implications for prevention and control. Lymphatic filariasis related perceptions and practices on the coast of Ghana: implications for prevention and control. Retrieved March 23, 2014, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001706X99000376?via=ihub# 

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