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Neglected Parasitic Infections in the United States (NPIs)

Most people think of parasitic diseases occurr in poor and developing countries, and is something they might pick up on a trip to a foreign country. However, parasitic infections also occur in the United States. In some cases, they affect millions of people. 

  • Impact millions: Parasitic infections can go unnoticed, with few symptoms. But many times these infections cause serious illnesses, including seizures, blindness, pregnancy complications, heart failure, and even death.
  • No one is immune: Anyone, regardless of race or economic status, can become infected. 
  • Can be prevented: CDC has targeted five neglected parasitic infections (NPIs) in the United State as priorities for public health action. These infections are considered neglected because relatively little attention has been devoted to their surveillance, prevention, and/or treatment. NPIs were prioritized based on the numbers of people infected, the severity of the illnesses, or our ability to prevent and treat them. The NPIs include Chagas disease, cysticercosis (neurocysticercosis), toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis.

Learn more about what CDC does to prevent, treat, and control NPIs. In a special section in the May 2014 issue of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene CDC scientists examine NPIs.

Graphics / Images

  • Photo: Triatomine (kissing bug) with egg

    Triatomine (kissing bug) with eggs
    Photo credit: Jim Gathany

  • Photo: CDC scientist Dr. Mark Eberhard holds a sample of Toxacara canis, the parasite that coauses toxocariasis

    CDC scientist Dr. Mark Eberhard holds a sample of Toxacara canis, a parasite that causes toxocariasis
    Photo credit: David Snyder

  • Photo: Sample of Taenia solium, or pork tapeworm, the parasite that causes cysticercosis

    Sample of Taenia solium, or pork tapeworm, the parasite that causes cysticercosis
    Photo credit: David Snyder

  • Infographic: Parasitic infections
affect millions of people in the United States every
year.

    Parasitic infections affect millions of people in the United States every year. CDC has prioritized these 5 parasitic infections for public health action here at home.
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Neglected Parasitic Iinfection: Chagas Disease

    Neglected Parasitic Infection: Chagas Disease
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Neglected Parasitic Iinfection: Cysticercosis

    Neglected Parasitic Infection: Cysticercosis
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Neglected Parasitic Iinfection: Toxocariasis

    Neglected Parasitic Infection: Toxocariasis
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Neglected Parasitic Iinfection: Toxoplasmosis

    Neglected Parasitic Infection: Toxoplasmosis
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Neglected Parasitic Iinfection: Trichomoniasis

    Neglected Parasitic Infection: Trichomoniasis
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Chagas Disease- Life Cycle of Trypanosoma cruzi

    Chagas Disease: Life Cycle of Trypanosoma cruzi
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Cysticercosis- Life Cycle of Taenia solium

    Cysticercosis: Life Cycle of Taenia solium
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Toxocariasis - Life Cycle of Toxocara spp.

    Toxocariasis: Life Cycle of Toxocara spp.
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Toxoplasmosis: Life Cycle of Toxoplasma gondii.

    Toxoplasmosis: Life Cycle of Toxoplasma gondii
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: Trichomoniasis - Life Cycle of Trichomonas vaginalis.

    Trichomoniasis: Life Cycle of Trichomonas vaginalis
    Entire Infographic

CDC Related Links

Health Communication Materials

Scientific Resources

Chagas Disease:

Cysticercosis:

Toxocariasis:

Toxoplasmosis:

Trichomoniasis:

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH

Biography

Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH

Parasitic infections affect millions around the world causing seizures, blindness, infertility, heart failure, and even death. They’re more common in the US than people realize and yet there is so much we don’t know about them. We need research to learn more about these infections and action to better prevent and treat them.

Tom Frieden, MD, MPH - Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Monica Parise, MD

Biography

Photo: Monica Parise, MD

These neglected parasitic infections, or NPIs, affect millions of Americans. But they can be prevented. We can best prevent and control these diseases by better defining their scope and determining what puts people at risk to get them. We need to improve methods for diagnosing them and develop better medications for preventing and treating them. We should also look at ways to expand the use of existing public health interventions that work.

Monica Parise, MD - Chief, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health

Susan P. Montgomery, DVM, MPH

Biography

Photo: Susan P. Montgomery, DVM, MPH

Chagas disease can cause severe heart problems, including heart failure, stroke, and even death. There are more than 300,000 people with Chagas disease living in the United States and most don’t know they have this infection. Most health care providers in the United States aren’t familiar with the disease, so they don’t think to test their patients who might be at risk, or they might not know how to treat them.

Susan P. Montgomery, DVM, MPH - Epidemiology Team Lead, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health

Paul T. Cantey, MD, MPH

Biography

Photo: Paul T. Cantey, MD, MPH

Neurocysticercosis is the leading cause of infectious epilepsy in many parts of the world. This totally preventable infection can have a devastating effect on people’s lives and is sometimes fatal. Despite advances in our understanding, we still have many unanswered questions. CDC will continue to do its part to improve our ability to diagnose, manage, and prevent this disease of neglected people.

Paul T. Cantey, MD, MPH - Medical Epidemiologist, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health

Jeffrey L. Jones, MD, MPH

Biography

Photo: Jeffrey L. Jones, MD, MPH

Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most common parasites that infects humans and infects millions of people in the United States. Better tools are needed to diagnose and treat toxoplasmosis.

Jeffrey L. Jones, MD, MPH - Medical Epidemiologist, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health

Dana M. Woodhall, MD

Biography

Photo: Dana M. Woodhall, MD

Toxocariasis is a preventable parasitic infection. CDC is working to educate both healthcare professionals and the general public about this disease in an effort to prevent further infections from occurring.

Dana M. Woodhall, MD - Medical Epidemiologist, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health

W. Evan Secor, PhD

Biography

Photo: W. Evan Secor, PhD

Trichomonas vaginalis was once regarded as an annoying infection and it was thought that women who were not cured did not follow the prescribed treatment. It is gratifying to see those attitudes changing among clinicians and recognition of both the health consequences of trichomoniasis and the reality of drug resistance.

W. Evan Secor, PhD - Team Lead, Elimination and Control Laboratory, Parasitic Diseases Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Center for Global Health

 
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