Parasitic zoonoses (PZs) pose a significant but often neglected threat to public health, especially in developing countries. In order to obtain a better understanding of their health impact, summary measures of population health may be calculated, such as the Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY). However, the data required to calculate such measures are often not readily available for these diseases, which may lead to a vicious circle of under-recognition and under-funding.
We examined the burden of PZs in Nepal through a systematic review of online and offline data sources. PZs were classified qualitatively according to endemicity, and where possible a quantitative burden assessment was conducted in terms of the annual number of incident cases, deaths and DALYs.
Between 2000 and 2012, the highest annual burden was imposed by neurocysticercosis and congenital toxoplasmosis (14,268 DALYs [95% Credibility Interval (CrI): 5450–27,694] and 9255 DALYs [95% CrI: 6135–13,292], respectively), followed by cystic echinococcosis (251 DALYs [95% CrI: 105–458]). Nepal is probably endemic for trichinellosis, toxocarosis, diphyllobothriosis, foodborne trematodosis, taeniosis, and zoonotic intestinal helminthic and protozoal infections, but insufficient data were available to quantify their health impact. Sporadic cases of alveolar echinococcosis, angiostrongylosis, capillariosis, dirofilariosis, gnathostomosis, sparganosis and cutaneous leishmaniosis may occur.
In settings with limited surveillance capacity, it is possible to quantify the health impact of PZs and other neglected diseases, thereby interrupting the vicious circle of neglect. In Nepal, we found that several PZs are endemic and are imposing a significant burden to public health, higher than that of malaria, and comparable to that of HIV/AIDS. However, several critical data gaps remain. Enhanced surveillance for the endemic PZs identified in this study would enable additional burden estimates, and a more complete picture of the impact of these diseases.
Various parasites that infect humans require animals in some stage of their life cycle. Infection with these so-called zoonotic parasites may vary from asymptomatic carriership to long-term morbidity and even death. Although data are still scarce, it is clear that parasitic zoonoses (PZs) present a significant burden for public health, particularly in poor and marginalized communities. So far, however, there has been relatively little attention to this group of diseases, causing various PZs to be labeled neglected tropical diseases. In this study, the authors reviewed a large variety of data sources to study the relevance and importance of PZs in Nepal. It was found that a large number of PZs are present in Nepal and are imposing an impact higher than that of malaria and comparable to that of HIV/AIDS. These results therefore suggest that PZs deserve greater attention and more intensive surveillance. Furthermore, this study has shown that even in settings with limited surveillance capacity, it is possible to quantify the impact of neglected diseases and, consequently, to break the vicious circle of neglect.