A recent editorial in PLOS NTDs has declared that the journal will launch a specially focussed section on enteric infections and enteric dysfunction. The editorial emphasizes the importance of working in this area, stressing:
There is increasing recognition of the role of the intestine as the critical site where the human host encounters pathogens, initiates the immune response, protects from pathogen invasion, controls nutrient and calorie absorption, and modulates hormonal response. Enteric dysfunction—as a result of diarrheal disease, parasitic infections, alterations in the gut microbial environment, and other causes—has been linked to malnutrition, delayed cognitive development, increased susceptibility to other infectious diseases, poor oral vaccine response, and increased mortality risk. The collective long-term impacts of these conditions on the most marginalized communities are tremendous. Given the importance of these diseases and syndromes, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases has decided to include a new section focused on enteric infections and enteric dysfunction.
Many neglected diseases which affected the gut were already under the purview of the journal, but this effort to bring the gut pathogens into highlight is an interesting and encouraging development. The editorial cites results from landmark enteric infectious disease studies, like the GEMS (Global Enteric Multicenter Study) and MAL-ED (Malnutrition and Enteric Diseases), and goes on to emphasize the need to highlight the research and policy work being done with respect to enteric infections and enteric dysfunction.
Despite recent improvements in the morbidity and mortality patterns, diarrhea has continued to plague the public health experts, staying at the top of the causes of deaths, according to the data from the Global Burden of Diseases study. A quick look at the etiologies of diarrheal diseases which have claimed lives shows that there has been some change in the proportion of causes attributable to traditional pathogens, between 1990 and 2016. Based on the data reported by the GBD, it appears that the viral causes have started to become predominant killers, and Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium and cholera, have all gone down between 1990 and 2016.
As the conversation in the Indian policy circles starts to focus on the need to focus on the study of the prevention and control of enteric diseases, particularly typhoid and paratyphoid fevers, and other enteric infections for which vaccines are available, this is a welcome step from the leading journal in the field of Neglected Tropical Diseases. The journal comments:
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases looks forward to publishing the results of studies and trials targeting the definition, classification, mechanisms, treatment, and/or prevention of enteric infection and dysfunction. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases is prepared to serve as a platform to bring together and disseminate important discoveries and innovations that will drive solutions to these enteric conditions that disproportionately impact populations in low-resource settings.
As we seem to close in on what seems to be the next clutch of enteropathogens seem amenable to be controlled through planned deployment of comprehensive intervention packages, this is a welcome step from PLOS NTDs and brings forward an essential voice leading the campaign against enteric infections and enteric dysfunctions.