Chagas Disease

What is Chagas Disease?

Chagas disease is a parasitic infection caused by trypanosomes, tiny parasites that are transmitted to humans and other animals by certain blood-sucking insects, including the kissing bug. It is also known as American trypanosomiasis, or sometimes “the kissing bug disease.” The disease affects around 8 million people, mostly in Latin America, and in recent years it has become a potential worldwide health threat.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease

The symptoms of Chagas disease vary from person to person, but they commonly occur in two stages:

  • The acute stage typically occurs within the first few weeks or months after infection. It is often mild and can go unnoticed or even be confused with the flu. Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, body aches, rash, loss of appetite, and swelling near the site of the insect bite.
  • The chronic stage may start months or even years after the acute stage. During this stage, symptoms usually become more serious and can include an enlarged heart, an enlarged esophagus, and an enlarged colon. Other symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest pain, and arrhythmias.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Chagas disease is usually diagnosed through a blood test. The treatment depends on the severity of the disease. In mild cases, there may not be any treatment. In more severe cases, medications are used to try to kill the parasite and prevent it from reproducing. It is important to note that while most medications are effective, they may not be able to completely eliminate the parasite.


The best way to prevent Chagas disease is to avoid being bitten by the insect that carries the parasite. This can be done by taking steps to make your home and property less attractive to insects, such as sealing any cracks or crevices in walls or floors and using insect repellants indoors and outdoors. If you are traveling to an area where Chagas disease is common, you should also take measures to protect yourself, such as wearing long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and insect repellent.