Public Health Policy Makers and Disease Control Officials Hungry for More Data
Mycetoma is typically a disease of poor populations and is endemic in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It receives little international attention yet it affects thousands of people and there are major issues regarding diagnosis and treatment; control efforts are virtually non-existent.
The exact burden of mycetoma is unknown and more information is needed. The role of genetic predisposition, co-infection with other endemic diseases, immune responses and interplay with ecological factors need to be addressed. Diagnosis is mainly clinical, which may lead to an incorrect diagnosis and management. A sensitive and affordable point-of-care test is much needed. While in some centers the diagnostic process may be supplemented by direct and microscopic examination of aspirates or biopsies including culture, conclusive identification of the pathogen involved is often not possible and for this purpose more accurate molecular tools are most promising. Identification of relevant antigens may form the basis of the development of a vaccine.
Mycetoma clearly fulfills the criteria for a Neglected Tropical Disease and in a May 2013 side meeting during the World Health Assembly it was recognized by the WHO as a neglected condition associated with the seventeen diseases recognized as NTDs and given standing on their website.
We encourage authors to contribute their work and address the above mentioned priorities in order to increase our knowledge of mycetoma. This will hopefully enable improved management and design of control efforts for the populations affected by this chronic, mutilating and stigmatizing condition.
PLOS NTDs will dedicate a special issue to mycetoma in collaboration with Ed Zijlstra, Ahmed Fahal and Wendy van de Sande. We invite any original research work on epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and pathogenesis. A number of reviews will be commissioned.
The deadline for submission is February 1st, 2014. While submitting your paper, please indicate in your Cover Letter that your paper is intended for this collection. All papers will undergo standard peer-review and be published under the Creative Commons Attribution License.