Neglected Tropical Diseases

Image of a female Aedes mosquito.

A female Aedes mosquito.

Credit: NIAID

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), such as dengue, lymphatic filariasis, trachoma, and leishmaniasis, are called "neglected," because they generally afflict the world's poor and historically have not received as much attention as other diseases. NTDs tend to thrive in developing regions of the world, where water quality, sanitation, and access to health care are substandard. However, some of these diseases also are found in areas of the United States with high rates of poverty.

Why Is the Study of Neglected Tropical Diseases a Priority for NIAID?

Neglected tropical diseases, take a tremendous toll on global health. The World Health Organization estimates that more than one billion people — approximately one-sixth of the world's population — suffer from at least one NTD. While NTDs rarely lead to death, they can cause significant disability that persists for a lifetime, including fatigue, blindness, and disfigurement. Sufferers miss school, are unable to work, or are too embarrassed to seek medical care. By diminishing quality of life and opportunities to succeed, NTDs can reinforce the cycle of poverty among the world's disadvantaged populations.

How Is NIAID Addressing This Critical Topic?

NIAID has a robust program of research devoted to better understanding, preventing, and treating NTDs. Studies conducted and supported by NIAID have led to important new discoveries about the microbes that cause NTDs, the identification of targets for potential new drugs and vaccines, and the development of strategies for controlling the organisms that transmit NTD-causing agents to humans. Learn more about the NIAID role in neglected tropical disease research.

Types of Neglected Tropical Diseases

NTDs comprise several diseases that have a range of effects, from extreme pain to permanent disability to death.

Learn more about some of the NTDs NIAID is studying

Scientific Findings

NIAID conducts basic and clinical studies and supports researcher in the United States and in countries where NTDs are widespread.

Read more about recent scientific findings by some of these studies

Quick Facts

NTDs are widespread in the world's poorest regions, where water safety, sanitation, and access to health care are substandard. An estimated 1 billion people—approximately one-sixth of the world's population—suffer from at least one NTD.

Read more facts about neglected tropical diseases
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