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Neglected tropical diseases in Australia: a narrative review

Johanna Kurcheid, Catherine A Gordon, Naomi E Clarke, Kinley Wangdi, Matthew Kelly, Aparna Lal, Polydor N Mutombo, Dongxu Wang, Mary L Mationg, Archie CA Clements, Stephen Muhi, Richard S Bradbury, Beverley‐Ann Biggs, Wendy Page, Gail Williams, Donald P McManus and Darren Gray
Med J Aust 2022; 216 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51533
Published online: 6 June 2022

Summary

  1. • Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) represent a threat to the health, wellbeing and economic prosperity of billions of people worldwide, often causing serious disease or death.
  2. • Commonly considered diseases of low and middle‐income nations, the presence of NTDs in high income countries such as Australia is often overlooked.
  3. • Seven of the 20 recognised NTDs are endemic in Australia: scabies, soil‐transmitted helminths and strongyloidiasis, echinococcosis, Buruli ulcer, leprosy, trachoma, and snakebite envenoming.
  4. • Dengue, while not currently endemic, poses a risk of establishment in Australia. There are occasional outbreaks of dengue fever, with local transmission, due to introductions in travellers from endemic regions.
  5. • Similarly, the risk of introduction of other NTDs from neighbouring countries is a concern. Many NTDs are only seen in Australia in individuals travelling from endemic areas, but they need to be recognised in health settings as the potential consequences of infection can be severe.
  6. • In this review, we consider the status of NTDs in Australia, explore the risk of introducing and contracting these infections, and emphasise the negative impact they have on the health of Australians, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
  • Johanna Kurcheid1,2
  • Catherine A Gordon3
  • Naomi E Clarke1,4
  • Kinley Wangdi1
  • Matthew Kelly1
  • Aparna Lal1
  • Polydor N Mutombo5
  • Dongxu Wang1
  • Mary L Mationg1
  • Archie CA Clements6
  • Stephen Muhi7
  • Richard S Bradbury8
  • Beverley‐Ann Biggs7
  • Wendy Page9
  • Gail Williams10
  • Donald P McManus3
  • Darren Gray1

  • 1 Australian National University, Canberra, ACT
  • 2 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland
  • 3 QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD
  • 4 Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW
  • 5 National Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW
  • 6 Curtin University, Perth, WA
  • 7 Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, VIC
  • 8 Federation University Australia, Melbourne, VIC
  • 9 James Cook University, Townsville, QLD
  • 10 University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD



Acknowledgements: 

We thank Jennifer Shield for her help in edits and comments on the manuscript.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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