The global diabetes epidemic: what does it mean for infectious diseases in tropical countries?
SourceLancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, 5, 6, (2017), pp. 457-468
Article / Letter to editor
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Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology
SubjectRadboudumc 4: lnfectious Diseases and Global Health RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
Tropical countries are experiencing a substantial rise in type 2 diabetes, which is often undiagnosed or poorly controlled. Since diabetes is a risk factor for many infectious diseases, this increase probably adds to the large infectious disease burden in tropical countries. We reviewed the literature to investigate the interface between diabetes and infections in tropical countries, including the WHO-defined neglected tropical diseases. Although solid data are sparse, patients with diabetes living in tropical countries most likely face increased risks of common and health-care-associated infections, as well as infected foot ulcers, which often lead to amputation. There is strong evidence that diabetes increases the severity of some endemic infections such as tuberculosis, melioidosis, and dengue virus infection. Some HIV and antiparasitic drugs might induce diabetes, whereas helminth infections appear to afford some protection against future diabetes. But there are no or very scarce data for most tropical infections and for possible biological mechanisms underlying associations with diabetes. The rise in diabetes and other non-communicable diseases puts a heavy toll on health systems in tropical countries. On the other hand, complications common to both diabetes and some tropical infections might provide an opportunity for shared services-for example, for eye health (trachoma and onchocerciasis), ulcer care (leprosy), or renal support (schistosomiasis). More research about the interaction of diabetes and infections in tropical countries is needed, and the infectious disease burden in these countries is another reason to step up global efforts to improve prevention and care for diabetes.
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