Tropical diseases becoming more prevalent in Europe

A new study reveals that neglected tropical diseases from Africa and Asia are more frequently being found in Europe.

Multiple instances of worm infestations, food parasites, Chagas disease and sand fly-transmitted infections can be found in a compendium of case reports collected from 1999 to 2010 for a study conducted by the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Georgetown University, according to the New York Times.

The study, recently published in The International Journal of Infectious Diseases, shows that the problems have been worse in countries with weak economies and where migratory populations were once banned. These include Eastern Europe, Turkey, former Soviet states and the Balkans.

Roundworms, pinworms and whipworms, along with worms from pets, were somewhat common in Albania and Armenia, but have now turned up in Italy. As state-owned slaughterhouses collapses in Eastern Europe, home slaughtering has led to an increase in trichinellosis.

Chagas, a blood parasite that can cause death after years of dormant infection, has reached Spain from Latin American immigrants, prompting calls for blood screening of potential blood donors. Leishmaniasis, which can lead to sores on the surfaces of internal organs, is spreading across southern Europe from Portugal to Croatia via sand flies.

The study also found that several groups are particularly vulnerable to these diseases, including Gypsies and African immigrants.