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NIH Record  
Vol. LXIII, No. 17
  August 19, 2011
Lessons on Leadership from NIH’s Mission into Space
Rao Named First Director of New Center For Regenerative Medicine
Feds Feed Families: NIH’ers Rally to the Call
CC Grand Rounds Looks at Hepatitis E
LaVeist To Give ‘Mind the Gap’ Lecture, Sept. 6
Green Labs Fair Schedule Set
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U.S. Not Spared
Worm Infections Plague World’s Poorest Populations

Dr. Peter Hotez speaks at Natcher on July 28.
Dr. Peter Hotez speaks at Natcher on July 28.
In front of a standing-room-only audience in Natcher Bldg. on July 28, Dr. Peter Hotez admitted that he planned to go outside his comfort zone. While he frequently addresses groups on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the world’s low- and middle- income countries, he has not spoken extensively about similar neglected infections of poverty in the United States.

The World’s Neglected Tropical Diseases

The NTDs are chronic parasitic and related infections that plague the world’s poorest populations. The 17 members of the class, many of which are associated with parasites (usually worms), are not in themselves killers but instead make life so miserable that the human cost is calculated in DALYs—disability-adjusted life years. And there are many millions of them.

Unlike AIDS and malaria, which can kill and which draw much public attention and funding, the NTDs get comparatively little attention, Hotez argues. They also lack robust research funding.

A Summer Menace
Ample Water, Avoiding Dehydration Can Prevent Renal Calculi

Talk about a summer bummer. They could attack you, fully unprovoked—like bees pouring out of a hornet’s nest—during your daughter’s graduation ceremony, in the middle of your family picnic or during the 7th inning stretch. Their pain can bring you to your knees. In fact, just the thought of them is enough to make a person wince—kidney stones.

There’s never a good time for these unwelcome intruders, but evidence shows they inflict their pain most often during the humid, oppressive summer months, when dehydration can most frequently occur and there is increased outdoor activity. They also crop up more often in southern parts of the country and, internationally, in regions close to the equator.

Often described as comparable to, and perhaps even more painful than, natural childbirth, kidney stones—known as renal calculi—are solid, often sharp substances made of mineral and acid salts. They can travel into the ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder), dishing out excruciating lower back pain and genital discomfort. In addition, the afflicted may also experience bloody urine, fever and chills, nausea and vomiting and, most frequently, a constant urge to urinate.