Peter Hotez discusses a new European neglected diseases center in Greece in NEO Magazine. 

POSTED: 06/20/2013

While today populations who live in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia suffer from the largest public health impact from the world’s neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), it is astonishing to some that many of these same diseases also disproportionately strike the impoverished populations living in Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
In Europe, a 2011 analysis found surprisingly high rates of NTDs among the more than 150 million Europeans who live below the poverty level. Especially in the Balkans and elsewhere in southeastern Europe, as well as in Turkey, several former Soviet-bloc countries, and among the Roma, today there are high rates of parasitic infections such as echinococcosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichinellosis, as well as a number of important bacterial infections such as brucellosis and congenital syphilis. Many of these NTDs are zoonoses transmitted from animals and linked to breakdowns in veterinary public health, especially in Eastern Europe. Fallout from the war in the Balkans and the collapse of communism among the former Soviet republics represent key socioeconomic determinants of these infections.