Fact sheets


Buruli Ulcer
Buruli ulcer is a disease of the skin caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, a bacterium related to those that cause Tuberculosis and Leprosy. The exact mode of transmission of the infection to humans is still unknown, although there is some evidence that it may be transmitted through the bites of infected aquatic insects or penetration into the skin through minor wounds or traumas.
icon Buruli Ulcer Programme at a glance (228.95 kB)

Fact sheet on Buruli ulcer

Guinea Worm Disease
Guinea worm disease (Dracunculiasis) is one of two human diseases currently targeted for eradication. It is a debilitating parasitic infectious disease affecting predominantly rural populations. It is caused by a large nematode, called Dracunculus medinensis. The parasite is transmitted only through drinking unsafe water that has been contaminated with parasite-infected flea. Guineaworm disease is transmitted exclusively by drinking stagnant water contaminated with tiny water fleas that carry infective guinea-worm larvae. Inside the body, the larvae mature into worms, growing up to 1 metre in length. Humans are the only known reservoirs for the disease.
icon Guinea Worm Disease Programme at a glance (98.68 kB)

Fact sheet on Dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease)

Human African Trypanosomiasis
Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), also known as ‘sleeping sickness’, is a vector-borne parasitic disease. It is transmitted through bites from the tsetse fly. Human African trypanosomiasis takes two forms, depending on the parasite involved:

  1. Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (T.b.g.) found in west and central Africa, currently accounts for over 95% of reported cases of sleeping sickness and causes a chronic infection.
  2. Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (T.b.r.) found in eastern and southern Africa represents less than 5% of reported cases and causes an acute infection.

icon Human African Trypanosomiasis Programme at a glance (156.74 kB)

Fact sheet on Human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, an acid-fast bacterium affecting mainly the skin and nerves. Historically prevalent in every continent, leprosy has almost disappeared from developed countries. Throughout the World, leprosy has left images of mutilation, rejection and exclusion from society which still persist today. People under-served or under-covered by health services and marginalised communities often the poorest of the poor are the most at risk for leprosy. Leprosy was considered incurable until the 1940s. The transmission of Mycobacterium leprae is mainly direct and aerial between persons.
icon Leprosy Programme at a glance (176.71 kB)

Fact sheet on Leprosy

Lymphatic filariasis
Lymphatic filariasis is caused by thread-like parasitic worms of the species Wunchereria bancrofti, called filarie. These filarial parasites, in their adult stage, live in the vessels of the lymphatic system for 4-6 years, producing millions of very small larvae – immature microfilariae that circulate in the peripheral blood with a marked nocturnal or diurnal periodicity. The infection is transmitted by mosquitoes that bite infected humans and pick up the microfilariae from the blood.

icon Lymphatic Filariasis Programme at a glance (224.91 kB)

Fact sheet on Lymphatic filariasis

Schistosomiasis, or Bilharziasis, is a parasitic disease caused by trematode flatworms of the genus Schistosoma. Larval forms of the parasites, released by freshwater snails penetrate the skin of individuals during their contact of water. In the body, the larvae develop into adult schistosomes, which live in the blood vessels. The females release eggs, some of which are passed out of the body in the urine or faeces. Others are trapped in body tissues, causing an immune reaction. In urinary schistosomiasis, there is progressive damage of the bladder, ureters and kidneys. In intestinal schistosomiasis, there is progressive enlargement of the liver and spleen, intestinal damage, and hypertension of the abdominal blood vessels.
icon Schistosomiasis Control Helminthiasis Programme at a glance (278.84 kB)

Fact sheet in Schistosomiasis

Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis
Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis (STH) commonly known as intestinal worms are the most common infections worldwide affecting the most deprived
communities. STH is infestation with one or more intestinal parasitic worms (roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworms (Trichuris trichiura), or hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale).

icon Soil‐Transmitted Helminthiasis Programme at a glance (140.52 kB)