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Medicine Science

Developing World's Parasites, Diseases Enter US 337

reporter alerts us to a story up at the Wall Street Journal on the increasing prevalance in the US of formerly rare, 3rd-world diseases such as toxocariasis, chagas, and cysticercosis. Health-care legislation pending in the House calls for a full report to Congress about the threat from this cluster of diseases, termed "neglected infections of poverty." "Parasitic infections and other diseases usually associated with the developing world are cropping up with alarming frequency among US poor, especially in states along the US-Mexico border, the rural South, and in Appalachia, according to researchers. Government and private researchers are just beginning to assess the toll of the infections, which are a significant cause of heart disease, seizures and congenital birth defects among black and Hispanic populations. ... 'These are diseases that we know are ten-fold more important than swine flu,' said [one] leading researcher in this field. 'They're on no one's radar.' ... These diseases share a common thread. 'People who live in the suburbs are at very low risk,' Dr. Hotez said. But for the 37 million people in the US who live below the poverty line, he said, 'There is real suffering.'" Update: 08/23 16:55 GMT by KD : The submitter pointed out that the usual "Related" link to the original submission was missing on this story. We are testing a new version of the story editor and this was probably caused by a bug; reported. Here's the original.
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Developing World's Parasites, Diseases Enter US

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  • This isn't funny (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:04PM (#29159631)

    My college roommate has been working with Mexican families here in South Carolina for the past two years.

    He was diagnosed with drug-resistant TB back in June.

  • Rich (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mindbrane ( 1548037 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:22PM (#29159757) Journal
    Remember the end of 'War of the Worlds'? IIRC, at least in the old film, the narrator speaks of God in His wisdom populating our little blue planet with microbes that defeat an invading alien horde that we with all our military might and technology can't stand against. If, of the 5 (Pollution) Horsemen of the Apocalypse, pestilence should be the big winner then the irony of it all playing off the end of the 'War of the Worlds' will be a sauce so rich and thick in irony as to be perfectly suited to Pestilence's feast.

    Certainly globalization plays a part, but, perhaps, more importantly, we're poking big holes in the biomass. Threatened species adapt and the little microbes whose hosts were, in some cases, shuffling around the globe, and, in others, driving to extinction have to adapt. Adaption may entail making the leap to a new species and, along with our livestock, we're the most like landing spot.

    The first test of an intelligent species is ensuring its survival. We now adequately know the limitations of our biosphere, we know its interconnectedness, and yet, we can't act rationally. There are now 6 billion of us, if you accept that there will be 9 billion then I hold that there will be 12 billion before we have international laws in place to stop us from destroying ourselves. 12 billion is just my loose estimate based on current numbers and the projected growth in the face of our current plight. Given our natures are a blend, of greed, lust, fear and shame tempered by altruism, and, further given our current and projected circumstances I think our best chance is runaway economic growth spinning off R&D that might mitigate against our most pressing problems. If we've any safety to look forward to it's ironically in numbers because the talent necessary to solve the problems we face doesn't seem to stem directly from industrialization or advanced infrastructure, rather, it's the small percentage who can manage and extend our knowledge base.

  • Re:Close the borders (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @10:03PM (#29160021)
    I think today is the first time I have read slashdot comments and been utterly disgusted by a large amount of the non-troll posts. I never realised how racist slashdot really was.
  • Re:Close the borders (Score:3, Interesting)

    by andymadigan ( 792996 ) <> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @10:10PM (#29160055)
    Who said it had to do with health? I thought we were talking about failed or autocratic states. That does some times lead to health problems among citizens.

    GWB invaded Iraq for revenge and oil. However, it was a "bad" government, and that was an underlying cause.
  • by stdarg ( 456557 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @10:15PM (#29160079)

    Right. 62% of all personal bankruptcies in the U.S. in 2007 were caused by health problems and 78% of those filers had insurance. Citation [] That doesn't just make things more expensive for those with healthcare, it makes them more expensive for policy holders, anyone who wants a loan, small businesses, investors, and stockholders. And it's not just over the short term, it has an overall detrimental effect on our nation's economic well being which continues to mount.

    Health care is too expensive, no question. We're not going to fix it with preventive medicine (source 1 [] source 2 [], may be related I didn't check). Spreading out the cost sounds great until you realize that a lot of people don't have insurance because they can't afford it, and won't be paying their full share if they go for a public option either, so the same people who are paying more now will be paying more then too. If you want to make health care more affordable to have to do things to reduce the cost directly. Then more people would get insurance anyway because it would be cheaper.

  • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:07AM (#29160647) Journal
    Health care is a national security issue.

    It should be sold as one too. Hell the Department of Defense should provide it too! It would pass too. No one votes against national defense.

  • by Kral_Blbec ( 1201285 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @12:20AM (#29160743)
    If you go to the emergency room they already cant turn you away if you are unable to pay. I've met a few people that go there for anything, on the public's tab.
  • Yep, if you want to see the real effects of poverty and lack of health care just come to AR, right smack dab in the middle of the good old USA. According to my late sister's doctor they have even started using a new acronym for those that die from lack of basic health care "cattle" spelled CATL, which means "can't afford to live". The poor have to live on the cheapest (read fattiest) cuts of meat and basic filler like potatoes. They can't afford a dentist, which means the resulting massive infection caused by a cracked tooth ends up with quite a few dead from heart failure, and the ever rising cost of medicine and health care means that many die of things that could be prevented or treated with $$$ that they simply don't have-

    Like my late sister whose ashes I bury next week. Cause of death? Lack of copper and vitamins. Yep, simple lack of vitamins and minerals took my 36 year old sister away from her two teenage boys. But thanks to the royal buttraping we ALL get on even the most basic medicine the copper and vitamins in saline solution she required to live was $1600+ a month, and even with me helping out there was no way to afford it. So she was a case of CATL-can't afford to live. And to add insult to injury my state is one of those that pushed "tort reform" which made it so no matter how horribly a doctor fucked you up your maximum amount is 250k, and no lawyer will touch a medical malpractice case here anymore. So the bastard that we heard from a nurse later was most likely stoned while he operated on my sister, and fucked up at least three other girls, got to just walk away. The only thing that gives me comfort is the son of a bitch lawyer that pushed through tort reform here died broke and in agony, because nobody would take his case after a doctor butchered his nervous system and he blew all his savings on medicine.

    So yeah, you want to see a third world country right here in the USA? Come to AR. Hell the southern half of the state is littered with tar paper shacks that look like something out of "Mississippi Burning". You are only seeing a doctor in the ER, and with so many hospitals closing you are lucky if there is more than a "bandaid station" within 60 miles of you, the strong back jobs have all been taking by illegals that live 10 to a house and send the peanuts the company pays them back home, and more and more of our educated jobs are either being offshored or given to H1-Bs. So give it a few more years, with our infrastructure rotting and our cities falling apart, and then we'll look just like Brazil! Yay USA! Sadly more and more we are proving our late great George Carlin's punchline to be true-"You know why they call it "The American Dream"? Because you have to be asleep to believe in it."

  • by spicate ( 667270 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:21AM (#29161337)

    We pay more, and this creates big companies that develop drugs that get sold for less to the rest of the world - at least it sure feels like it.

    Pharmaceuticals only account for about 8% of US health scare spending, and the government already funds a substantial amount of drug development. In fact, the government and nonprofit foundations already fund a huge amount of medical research.

    If we can't fix medicare/medicaid we don't have a chance of building a sustainable, effective general health plan.

    We don't have a sustainable private system right now either. Insurance companies are doing everything they can to reduce coverage while increasing premiums. How is this better than a public option? One thing Medicare does quite effectively is drive down the costs of care. Ask any doctor. We need a public plan to control costs.

  • by buswolley ( 591500 ) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @02:24AM (#29161363) Journal
    Troll? I thought it was rather an insightful analogy. We can't afford to let disease spread. Having a piss-poor health system with uninsured, untreated, un-quarantined vectors, the USA remains vulnerable to both natural and intentional attack by bio-weaponry. It is just like fire spreading. Yeah its not my house on fire, but it can spread and come to me. Thus self-interest should lead us to be concerned with the welfare of our fellow human beings.
  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday August 23, 2009 @04:32AM (#29161951) Homepage Journal

    France, Canada, Britain and Japan, together with America, are the top 5 leading nations in healthcare. I doubt any of them get third-world "discounts". Aside from possibly Japan, all have horribly bad eating habits - obesity in Britain isn't that much lower than that in the United States.

    But let's look at the figures. Britain, PER CAPITA, has half the rate of heart attacks and spends half as much as the US. The four nations I mention pay, on average, 50 cents for every $200 spent on health-care in the US. I'm not sure about Japan, but the rest ALL manage to have public health services.

    Now, let's look at the other side, competition. Britain has the NHS which is universal. It also has BUPA (private healthcare that's so profitable it can even afford to run its own damn hospitals), Standard Life, Orchid, HealthTrust, PatientChoice, AXA PPP, Essential Healthcare, HSA, Norwich Union Healthcare, General & Medical,... In short, not what I'd call a shortage.

    So, go on. Tell me how a public health service would "ruin" the private insurance companies. Convince me BUPA is just an illusion. Go ahead. Persuade me that Japan is getting medicines "on the cheap" as part of foreign aid shipments to poor nations. Convince me that even those medical marvels invented in Canada, Britain or Japan are more expensive in America solely in order to recoup the costs.

    Yes, the top 5% of Americans CAN pay more, and prices have been adjusted to maximize profits not availability, so cater TO those 5%. What about the other 95%? Since America has never been able to adjust the ratio, it will always be 5:95, and that means it doesn't matter what the 95% earn. The prices will simply go up because the profits are all with the 5%.

    You happen to be one of the 5%. So is everyone on Slashdot, because nobody in the 95% is spending time talking. Me, well, although I'm in the top 5% as well (or I wouldn't be here), I have medical conditions which make getting insurance a real pain and which mean I spend $250+ a month to stay alive because insurance won't touch me.

    I know three people with spinal injuries who would LOVE to get away with something so cheap and none of them have my earning power. They each spend more in a week than I do in a month - those weeks they have enough money to spend on such luxuries. With those kinds of injuries, most work is right out of the question, which means you either have to start off very rich OR live your life on the bread line.

    Assuming the people I know are roughly representative of the population, traumatic injuries and life-threatening conditions are likely more common amongst those 95% than serious illness is amongst the 5%.

    When I look at America as it exists today, I see a world that is socially backwards, something out of a Dickens novel. Britain hasn't had workhouses for the poor since the Victorian era and abolished slavery in 1770. Even the fruit-pickers in Britain have unions and have a far better standard of living than those in the "land of opportunity".

    I happen to think Britain is regressive and repressed in many other ways, and that America has got quite a bit right, but American society is so.... backwards! It's barely better than it was when the Mayflower arrived. In some ways, it might even be worse - I'm fairly sure they didn't have a 1% prison population.

  • And you think VOTING is gonna solve things? Allow me to say BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA! What country do YOU live in pal? Because in case you ain't noticed we have been "Coke VS Pepsi" for at least the past 45+ years, probably longer. Since Obama won anyway, their vote didn't matter, correct? In 4 years you can come back here and see that NOTHING has changed, just as it didn't for Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr, Reagan, Carter, etc.

    You see your pissy little vote just can't compete with legalized bribery. Sorry but it is true. if we actually got the will of the people we would be out of Iraq by now, Pot would be legal, we would have affordable health care, etc. But all it takes is the head of a multinational corporation walking into an office with a blank check and yours and millions of other voters desires mean absolutely jack shit. We have been Democrat at the local and state level for damned near 100 years, don't seem to have changed much.

    Perhaps you should enjoy this bit by the late Bill Hicks [], who was from AR BTW, and notice the even though the man has been dead for 20 years the bit is STILL true. And I would argue that short of completely tossing out the current system and starting over it will be true 50 years from now. That is of course if the teaming masses of ever poorer people don't eventually get tired of it and burn the thing to the ground. Funny how no democracy in history has lasted for more than a few centuries. Most likely because they end up just like us-hopelessly corrupted and tilted against the ever growing numbers of the poor by the ever smaller super wealthy at the top.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @09:30AM (#29163029)
    Your assumption is flat out wrong. Populations with high mortality due to disease tend to switch from K reproduction strategies to r reproduction strategies. [] What this means is that if you are unsure that any one of your children will live to give you grandchildren, you have more children to increase the likelihood that you will have some grandchildren. Therefore untreated diseases and epidemics paradoxically lead to an INCREASE in population in the long run rather than a decrease, as long as those diseases don't lead to actual extinction.

    The two most powerful tools for switching human populations from r reproduction to K reproduction have been shown to be widespread medical care and available education/employment for women. Ironically, these two things are fought tooth and nail by those who complain about minorities "outbreeding" whites.
  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:23AM (#29172235)

    Yes, it is. Employer-covered plans are heavily subsidised with group rates, and the costs can still be over $500 per employee.

    I personally know several Americans who pay over $1000 per month in premiums (and that doesn't include the cost of drugs or other things that the insurance company won't pay for).

    Health insurance is ludicrously expensive in the US.

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