Chagas' Disease caused by Typanosoma cruzi

What Is Chagas' Disease?

Chagas' disease is a tropical parasitic disease caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It is found mainly in Central and South America, and is estimated to affect up to 8 million people in Mexico, Guatemala, and Venezuela alone. The disease is spread by the "kissing" bug, a blood-sucking insect found in Latin America, which feeds on people's blood at night while they are sleeping.

Signs and Symptoms of Chagas' Disease

In its early stages, Chagas' disease is asymptomatic. Eventually, it can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. Other signs and symptoms include headaches, rash, and swollen eyes. People who are infected with the parasite may also experience complications such as heart failure, digestive problems, and even stroke.

Risk Factors for Chagas' Disease

Chagas' disease is primarily found in Latin American countries, where it is spread by the blood-sucking "kissing" bug. People who live in or have visited areas where Chagas' disease is prevalent are at an increased risk of contracting the disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Chagas' Disease

The diagnosis of Chagas' disease requires a blood test. Treatment depends on the stage of the infection. In the acute stage, medications such as benznidazole or nifurtimox are usually prescribed. In the chronic stage, treatment with anti-parasitic drugs is generally not recommended, but people with severe heart failure may benefit from medications.

Preventing Chagas' Disease

The best way to prevent Chagas' disease is to avoid contact with the "kissing" bug. To do this, people should:

  • Use insect repellent
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing
  • Keep houses and yards free of debris where bugs can hide
  • Seal any cracks or openings that allow bugs to enter the house
  • Close bedroom windows at night