Neglected diseases caused years of devastation in developing world

Decades of neglect of anthrax and other zoonotic diseases caused the diseases to devastate thousands of people's lives in the developing world, according to a study recently published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh said anthrax, brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis failed to receive the official recognition and funding needed to effectively combat the diseases. All three diseases impact human and animal health in developing nations and pose a threat to safe and plentiful food supplies.

The three zoonotic diseases are common in societies where poverty is widespread and where individuals rely on animals for their livelihood.

The research team reviewed every meeting of the World Health Organization's decision-making body since 1948. They found the diseases were neglected mostly because they arose in developing countries.

"It is extraordinary that in the 21st century we are failing to manage brucellosis and the other neglected zoonotic diseases that impact so severely on rural communities in developing economies when, for many of these diseases, the tools to manage them are well developed," Sue Welburn, the director of the university's Global Health Academy, said.

The researchers suggested a multidisciplinary "one health" approach could improve human and animal health to control the diseases.

The study was funded by the European Commission.