Science

The Deadly Parasites that Humanity Eliminated

The Neglected Tropical diseases or NTDs used to affect one in seven humans. They are very numerous and dangerous. Some of them are leprosy, yaws, rabies, and river blindness. The number of affected people was more than the entire population of Europe. They affected millions of people’s lives and slowed the progress of many communities. Maybe some people have forgotten them, but they were one of the most important problems of humanity back then. They had many dangerous symptoms. 

The hookworm took the nutrition from babies’ bodies and brains. It decreased their growth and affected their intelligence. These babies grew up with problems that couldn’t be solved, therefore affecting their entire lives. 

Other parasites caused blindness due to eye infection. Other parasites damaged people’s internal organs. These people lied in bed and their families had to take care of them. Others caused horrible disfigurements in people’s bodies. They had to fight the trauma and the shame of their problems. Many of them were attacked by society and couldn’t find a job. Others cause an incredible amount of pain in a person’s body.  

Dracul Culiasis is one of them. You can get infected by drinking water. It is a worm that grows in your leg without being noticed for a year. Then it breaks out of the skin to release new larvae. At that point, it is one meter long and its body surrounds your bones, muscles, and nerves causing incredible pain. The only way to take it out is by pulling it centimeter by centimeter each day. It can take many weeks of enormous pain.

In 1985 there were 3.5 million cases of NTDs in the world. In 2015 there were 22. We eradicated  99.999 % of the parasites. How did we do it? The parasite affected mostly the most isolated areas of the world. To create the medicine necessary and move them to those places, we had one of the biggest health programs in history. It was a series of actions to help people from all over the world to prevent and treat NTDs. With the help of industry, we spent $18 billion to produce medicine and help people from all over the world. This was one of the few times that humanity spent so much effort and resources in something different than war.

Pablo Penaloza

My name is Pablo Peñalosa. I am a junior who loves basketball. I am from Tarija. My favorite food is seafood. A word that would describe me would be persistent.

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