Neglected Diseases

Buruli Ulcer: Flesh-eating Disease Attacks Mostly Children

Buruli ulcer attacks and destroys flesh, causing large wounds if left untreated.

More than 1 billion men, women and children are affected by neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), including leprosy and Buruli ulcer.

These diseases affect the poorest and most marginalized people and can lead to:

  • Profound pain and suffering
  • Malnutrition
  • Lifelong disabilities
  • Increased poverty
  • Stigma and isolation

American Leprosy Missions serves people affected by neglected diseases that, like leprosy, can cause disabilities and ongoing complications. These are:

  • Buruli ulcer
  • lymphatic filariasis (also known as elephantiasis)
  • yaws
  • leishmaniasis
  • trachoma
  • Human African Trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)

More than 40 million people live with lifelong disabilities caused by these diseases. With your support, we are working around the world to find, diagnose and treat people suffering with these terrible diseases. What’s more, your gifts allow us to train health workers and affected people to prevent and manage disabilities.

Lymphatic filariasis, also known as elephantiasis, has disabled more than 36 million people by causing severe swelling of legs and feet.

Buruli Ulcer

  • Caused by bacteria related to leprosy
  • Can eat flesh and sometimes bone
  • Can cause deformity, disability, permanent scarring and fatal infections
  • 50% of victims are under the age of 15
  • Cure: 8 weeks of antibiotics
  • Severe cases require surgery and skin grafts
  • Affected people are often ostracized
  • Thousands of cases in 30 countries, mainly in West Africa

Lymphatic Filariasis (Elephantiasis)

  • Caused by parasites carried by mosquitoes
  • Can lead to severe lower limb swelling
  • 36-40 million people disabled
  • Cure: Single doses of two medicines

Yaws is a neglected disease that causes skin ulcers. Your compassionate support helps us fight this terrible disease that mainly attacks children.


  • Caused by bacteria spread person to person
  • Causes skin ulcers
  • 75-80% people affected are children
  • 60,000 cases reported per year
  • Cure: Single dose of antibiotic


  • Caused by parasites carried by sand flies
  • 1 million new cases per year
  • Can cause skin lesions
  • Can be cured


  • Caused by bacteria carried by people and flies
  • Affects eyes
  • 1.9 million people blind or visually impaired
  • Cured with antibiotics

Human African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)

  • Caused by parasites carried by the tsetse fly
  • 2,804 new cases reported in 2015, most in DR Congo
  • Neurological damage can lead to changes of behavior, confusion and disturbance of the sleep cycle
  • Complex treatment involving five drugs

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