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Dear Decaturish – Your neighbors are beating neglected tropical diseases

Decatur Editor's Pick

Dear Decaturish – Your neighbors are beating neglected tropical diseases

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Dear Decaturish,

Anybody else binge-watching Dolly Parton’s “Heartstrings” this winter? If so, you may have heard one of the characters gossiping about someone who went to a honkey tonk only to leave with chlamydia of the eye.

Did you know that’s a real thing?

In fact, the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis is the leading infectious cause of blindness, and it’s responsible for visual impairment in nearly 2 million people. The resulting disease, trachoma, is incredibly painful. The infection is endemic in Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Australia and the Middle East (with no reported cases in Dolly Parton’s fictional “Baby Blues” bar). As it progresses, the eyelids turn inward so that the eyelashes scratch the cornea with every blink.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that there are ways to prevent trachoma. Furthermore, there’s an organization right in the heart of Decatur, The Task Force for Global Health, which manages the distribution of medicines that will eventually eliminate trachoma for good. The Task Force also has programs to prevent elephantiasis, intestinal worms, river blindness and leprosy (also a real thing).

These neglected tropical diseases (or NTDs, as we call them) affect the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. With the first-ever World NTD Day coming up on January 30th, we invite you to learn more about these diseases and the global fight to stop them.

To learn more about NTDs, go to worldntdday.org and follow #beatNTDs on social media. To find out what your neighbors are doing to fight NTDs, join us on Thursday, January 30th for a free event at The Task Force. We hope to see you there!


Chelsea Toledo

Associate Director, Communications & Development

Neglected Tropical Diseases Support Center

The Task Force for Global Health

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