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Friday, June 25, 2010

WHO : Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis)

From WHO. I first learned of this disease from Crof at H5N1, an article he posted on 21st June 2010 :

" Key facts

•An estimated 10 million people are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi (the parasite that causes Chagas disease) worldwide, mostly in Latin America.
•Chagas disease was once entirely confined to the Region of the Americas – principally Latin America – but it has now spread to other continents.
•Chagas disease is curable if treatment is initiated soon after infection.
•Up to 30% of chronically infected people develop cardiac alterations and up to 10% develop digestive, neurological or mixed alterations, for which specific treatment may become necessary.
•Vector control is the most useful method to prevent Chagas disease in Latin America.
•Blood screening is vital to prevent infection through transfusion and organ transplantation.


Chagas disease occurs mainly in Latin America. However, in the past decades it has been increasingly detected in the United States of America, Canada, many European and some Western Pacific countries. This is due mainly to population mobility between Latin America and the rest of the world. Less frequently, it is due to infection through blood transfusion, vertical transmission (from infected mother to child) or organ donation.

Signs and symptoms

Chagas disease presents itself in two phases. The initial, acute phase lasts for about two months after infection. During the acute phase, a high number of parasites circulate in the blood. In most cases, symptoms are absent or mild, but can include fever, headache, enlarged lymph glands, pallor, muscle pain, difficulty in breathing, swelling and abdominal or chest pain. In less than 50% of people bitten by a triatomine bug, characteristic first visible signs can be a skin lesion or a purplish swelling of the lids of one eye.

Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). It is found mainly in Latin America, where it is mostly transmitted to humans by the faeces of triatomine bugs, known as 'kissing bugs' , among other names, depending on the geographical area.

An estimated 10 million people are infected worldwide, mostly in Latin America where Chagas disease is endemic. More than 25 million people are at risk of the disease. It is estimated that in 2008 Chagas disease killed more than 10 000 people.

Chagas disease is named after Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano Chagas, a Brazilian doctor who first discovered the disease in 1909."

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