Peter Hotez and Serap Aksoy, co-editors-in-chief of PLOS NTDs, announce a new collection of research on Mycetoma, an “honorary” NTD.
Mycetoma is a serious and debilitating condition that meets all of the criteria we ordinarily attribute to a neglected tropical disease (NTD). Classically, it is a destructive fungal or bacterial infection of the foot (although other body parts can be affected) that results in disfigurement and social stigma. It overwhelmingly occurs in impoverished areas of a “mycetoma belt” that extends across the globe, roughly between the Equator and the Tropic of Cancer, with most of the cases reported from India, Mexico, Sudan, several countries in Africa’s Sahel (including Chad, Mali, and Mauritania), and Somalia and Yemen (Fig 1).
Like many NTDs linked to being poor, mycetoma can also reinforce or promote poverty by hindering work productivity, marriage prospects, and school attendance. In many countries, mycetoma disproportionately affects men engaged in agricultural occupations.
Mycetoma represents one of more than two dozen NTDs with the features highlighted above that are considered for publication in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (PLOS NTDs), even though they might not be listed currently among the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) list of 17 NTDs. In 2013, the WHO began recognizing mycetoma in a category of “other conditions” and provides important information about it on the WHO website.
At PLOS NTDs, however, we believe there remains a need to highlight the importance of mycetoma as a major poverty-related NTD. Accordingly, we have created a Special Collection of articles on this topic, together with a lead editorial from Drs. Eduard Zijlstra and Wendy van de Sande from The Netherlands and Dr. Ahmed Fahal from the Mycetoma Research Center in Khartoum, Sudan. These articles range from reporting basic science topics to epidemiological and clinical studies, and include an assessment of mycetoma’s global disease burden. Our hope is that the Special Collection becomes an important repository of knowledge on mycetoma, and one that will stimulate new investigators to begin studying this medically important and psychologically devastating NTD.