Attending to neglected tropical diseases

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Carlos Franco-Paredes, MD, MPH:
Attending to neglected tropical diseases
March 23, 2009

As Georgia's immigrant and refugee communities grow, so do Georgia's cases of infectious tropical diseases. Also known as neglected tropical diseases, these illnesses are endemic in some low-resource countries and cause considerable disability and dysfunction.

Carlos Franco-Paredes, MD, MPH, a researcher and clinician at the Emory TravelWell Clinic at Emory's midtown campus, provides pre- and post-travel health care to international travelers, including faculty, staff, students, business travelers and missionaries. Franco-Paredes, an expert in infectious diseases, also treats immigrants and refugees affected by neglected tropical diseases. He and colleagues recently received funding to study the epidemiology and treatment outcomes of tropical infectious diseases in immigrant and refugee communities in Georgia.

"We focus on these neglected tropical diseases and that's what the grant from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation is--to continue to do work on assessing the prevalence and the outcomes of hepatitis B, Chagas disease and leprosy," says Franco-Paredes.

In fact, the clinic is the main referral center for leprosy in the region. "Right now, we care for about 24 patients with leprosy, a chronic disease. Some have developed neurologic problems from this infection, and some have active disease, and we provide treatment," says Franco-Paredes. Most of the cases are found in foreign-born individuals, particularly patients from Central and South America and Asia.

Franco-Paredes' collaborators include Uriel Kitron, PhD, Emory professor and chair, Environmental Studies, and Sam Marie Engle, senior associate director, Emory's Office of University Community Partnerships.

To hear Franco-Paredes' own words about his research into neglected tropical diseases, use the player at the top of this page or subscribe to the podcast.