The Gulf Coast: A New American Underbelly of Tropical Diseases and Poverty
Drs. Peter Hotez, Kristy Murray and Pierre Buekens discuss the prevalence of tropical diseases of poverty in the Gulf Coast in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
"Extreme poverty and a warm, tropical climate are the two most potent forces promoting the endemicity of neglected tropical diseases in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Now, these same forces are also widely prevalent in the five states of the US Gulf Coast—Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Poverty is rampant: ten million Gulf Coast residents currently live below the US poverty line, with Mississippi topping the list of all states in terms of percentage of people who live in poverty (22%). Texas alone has almost five million poor people. Of particular concern is the level of extreme poverty—defined as less than one-half of the federal poverty level—in the region, especially among minorities. One in ten black children living in Louisiana and Mississippi live in such near-developing-nation-level conditions. Superimposed on this pervasive extreme poverty are frequent and periodic exposures to climate and environmental hazards, including hurricanes, floods, droughts, and oil spills, which in some cases can further exacerbate financial hardships in the region. Thus, today the Gulf Coast is currently considered America's most vulnerable and impoverished region."