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Scientists Celebrate Successes, New Tools in Fight Against Human Parasitic Worms

Bridget M. Kuehn, MSJ
JAMA. 2013;310(1):19-20. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.7665.
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It’s a proud moment for Tarig B. Higazi, PhD, associate professor of biology at Ohio University in Zanesville, and his colleagues: they recently reported on the apparent elimination of the parasitic disease onchocerciasis in Abu Hamed, Sudan (Higazi TB et al. Am J Trop Med Hyg. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.13-0112 [published online May 20, 2013]). That’s a rare accomplishment among those seeking to curb the spread of neglected tropical diseases, and one worth savoring.

Higazi’s study and a second that found less success for efforts to eliminate the same disease in Uganda were highlighted in a recent issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. These studies, and another report published in the same issue that demonstrates a new test for lymphatic filariasis, reveal some of the challenges facing researchers combating neglected parasitic diseases and the ways scientists are trying to overcome them.

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Scientists are working to eliminate onchocerciasis infections, which may cause skin discoloration, itching, rashes, and nodules under the skin. Severe cases may also lead to blindness.

K. Hilton/The Carter Center

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A new test may help more accurately identify individuals with lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic infection that can cause extreme swelling in appendages.

Gary Weil



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