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Glance: Diseases targeted by Gates Foundation push

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The Associated Press | January 30, 2012 01:29 PM EST | AP


The coordinated push by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 13 major drugmakers, government groups and health charities aims to eliminate by 2020:

_Guinea worm disease, infection by nematode worms growing up to 3 feet in length. It's transmitted by drinking water, and the female worm eventually emerges painfully through skin.

_Leprosy, or Hansen's Disease. A bacterial infection, it causes severe and disfiguring damage to skin, eyes, nerves and lining of the upper respiratory tract.

_Trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness. Repeated bacterial infections cause eyelids to scar and ultimately turn inward.

_Sleeping sickness. A parasitic disease spread by tsetse fly bites. Without early treatment it causes mental debilitation and death.

_Lymphatic filariasis. Better known as elephantiasis, the mosquito-borne worm disease incubates for years until the worms grow large enough to cause massive swelling.

The project also aims to control:

_River blindness. A black fly-borne parasitic disease caused by a worm, it causes skin lesions, severe itching and vision damage, including permanent blindness, and can shorten life expectancy by 15 years.

_Schistosomiasis. Transmitted by parasitic worms that penetrate the skin in fresh water, it damages organs and kills after parasite eggs accumulate in tissue.

_Chagas disease. A parasitic infection mainly transmitted through bug bites, it causes skin lesions and swollen eyelids and, in the chronic phase, damage to the heart, colon or esophagus.

_Visceral leishmaniasis, a parasitic infection spread by sandflies. It can cause skin infections and disfiguring lesions and, if untreated, attacks internal organs and kills within two years.

_Soil-transmitted helminthes, intestinal worms transmitted by fecal-oral contamination or through skin. It causes malnutrition, anemia, diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and impaired mental and physical development in children.