Strongyloidiasis: A Disease of Socioeconomic Disadvantage
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Abstract: Strongyloidiasis is a disease caused by soil transmitted helminths of the Strongyloides genus. Currently, it is predominately described as a neglected tropical disease. However, this description is misleading as it focuses on the geographical location of the disease and not the primary consideration, which is the socioeconomic conditions and poor infrastructure found within endemic regions. This classification may result in misdiagnosis and mistreatment by physicians, but more importantly, it influences how the disease is fundamentally viewed. Strongyloidiasis must be first and foremost considered as a disease of disadvantage, to ensure the correct strategies and control measures are used to prevent infection. Changing how strongyloidiasis is perceived from a geographic and clinical issue to an environmental health issue represents the first step in identifying appropriate long term control measures. This includes emphasis on environmental health controls, such as better infrastructure, sanitation and living conditions. This review explores the global prevalence of strongyloidiasis in relation to its presence in subtropical, tropical and temperate climate zones with mild and cold winters, but also explores the corresponding socioeconomic conditions of these regions. The evidence shows that strongyloidiasis is primarily determined by the socioeconomic status of the communities rather than geographic or climatic conditions. It demonstrates that strongyloidiasis should no longer be referred to as a “tropical” disease but rather a disease of disadvantage. This philosophical shift will promote the development of correct control strategies for preventing this disease of disadvantage.
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