The Verge

Sabin president Dr. Peter Hotez comments on chronic kidney disease (CKD) in Central American populations.

"CKD affects more than 20 million people in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The disease comes on slowly, with only subtle symptoms at the beginning, and it can be months or years before loss of kidney function occurs. Even then, symptoms like nausea and sudden weight loss may not occur until a patient's kidney function is below 10 percent. If detected early, it can be treated with medication and lifestyle changes, though late-stage CKD often requires dialysis or kidney transplants to avoid kidney failure. The disease is usually associated with diabetes and high blood pressure, and is most common among adults over the age of 70. But that's not the case in Nicaragua and other parts of Central America.

"It seems to be disproportionately affecting young, healthy males," says Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine. "And that's one of the tip-offs that something odd is going on."