There were many reasons that we picked cysticercosis as the first disease we decided to tackle. I could put as reason number #1 that no one should suffer from a completely (or nearly completely) preventable disease, but that could be said about almost every disease that’s preventable. The other reasons included:
- It’s scalable. You can have a nationwide cysticercosis plan, or a countywide plan, or just implement control and treatment in one village. It’s not like playing a game of whack-a-mole where failure to control in another area will mean that it will necessarily recur in the one where you are working.
- Although our project is village level, cysticercosis is big enough to deserve more attention. Neurocysticercosis–the form of the disease that causes seizures–is a problem the world over. It is one of the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs), diseases that in spite of affecting large numbers of people, flies under the radar. It’s not just a problem in Peru and South America, but in Africa and Asia as well.
- Fighting cysticercosis fights other diseases. Sanitation reduces threats from many diseases, including cholera, amebiasis, campylobacter, shigella and hepatitis A.
- Controlling cysticercosis increases food yields. If a pig is infested with Taenia solium (the causative agent of this disease) cysts, the entire carcass is condemned, leading to a loss of high-quality protein as well as an economic loss to the grower.