Exotic imports

March 8, 2009

San Francisco - Diseases once considered exotic have become prevalent in the modern age, as society has become more "global," says Aisha Sethi, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology and associate residency program director at the University of Chicago Pritsker School of Medicine, Chicago.

San Francisco

- Diseases once considered exotic have become prevalent in the modern age, as society has become more "global," says Aisha Sethi, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology and associate residency program director at the University of Chicago Pritsker School of Medicine, Chicago.

"Certain demographic factors are affecting the pattern of change in the field of dermatology," Dr. Sethi says.

Given the increased ease of travel and globalization, doctors will see an increase in imported cutaneous diseases.Americans made more than 56 million trips abroad in 2003, Dr. Sethi says, an increase from 44 million trips a decade earlier.

"Many travel to obscure locations," she says. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important for dermatologists to recognize and treat formerly exotic dermatoses with greater frequency.

In addition to travel, factors such as war, adoption, refugee movement, environmental factors and immigration have contributed to the prevalence of tropical dermatoses in developed countries.

According to United Nations statistics, there are 190 million immigrants in the world today, which represents 3 percent of the world’s population, Dr. Sethi says. Of these, 20 percent of the world’s immigrants live in the United States, coming primarily from Mexico, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and China.

Regarding the effects of climate changes, Dr. Sethi says, "Global warming is a fact. We know that it’s happening. It’s discussed a lot in national and international media."

The warming trend allows infectious organisms to grow, she says, and "carry parasites across borders."

Through a combination of all these factors, "it is increasingly useful that dermatologists and dermatology residents gain familiarity in this arena as tropical dermatoses become more prevalent in developed countries," according to Dr. Sethi. DT