Neglected Parasitic Infections: What Family Physicians Need to Know—A CDC Update
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Neglected Parasitic Infections: What Family Physicians Need to Know—A CDC Update

Public Access Version Available on: September 01, 2022, 12:00 AM
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      Am Fam Physician
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      Chagas disease, cysticercosis, and toxoplasmosis affect millions of people in the United States and are considered neglected parasitic diseases. Few resources are devoted to their surveillance, prevention, and treatment. Chagas disease, transmitted by kissing bugs, primarily affects people who have lived in Mexico, Central America, and South America, and it can cause heart disease and death if not treated. Chagas disease is diagnosed by detecting the parasite in blood or by serology, depending on the phase of disease. Antiparasitic treatment is indicated for most patients with acute disease. Treatment for chronic disease is recommended for people younger than 18 years and generally recommended for adults younger than 50 years. Treatment decisions should be individualized for all other patients. Cysticercosis can manifest in muscles, the eyes, and most critically in the brain (neurocysticercosis). Neurocysticercosis accounts for 2.1% of all emergency department visits for seizures in the United States. Diagnosing neurocysticercosis involves serology and neuroimaging. Treatment includes symptom control and antiparasitic therapy. Toxoplasmosis is estimated to affect 11% of people older than six years in the United States. It can be acquired by ingesting food or water that has been contaminated by cat feces; it can also be acquired by eating undercooked, contaminated meat. Toxoplasma infection is usually asymptomatic; however, people who are immunosuppressed can develop more severe neurologic symptoms. Congenital infection can result in miscarriage or adverse fetal effects. Diagnosis is made with serologic testing, polymerase chain reaction testing, or parasite detection in tissue or fluid specimens. Treatment is recommended for people who are immunosuppressed, pregnant patients with recently acquired infection, and people who are immunocompetent with visceral disease or severe symptoms.
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