Chagas disease is a serious infection that is most commonly seen in Latin America. It can lead to serious medical complications including heart disease and death. This infection is cause by a parasite, a protozoan parasite called a kissing bug, and it infects the blood. This disease is caused by being bitten and having blood sucked by the kissing bug. This infection can also be caught by consuming uncooked food that has been contaminated by the bugs droppings and by a mother passing it on to their babies when they are pregnant. In rare cases, people have acquired this disease through organ transplants and blood transfusions.
Chronic Form of This Disease
If a person has a chronic form of Chagas disease, it is incurable. When incurable it can lead to heart, digestive system and nervous system damage and this damage can be fatal. In some cases, this infection may lay dormant for ten to forty years. When this is the case, it most often ends in heart failure because during the years it lays dormant it is slowly causing damage to the internal organs.
It is estimated that this disease kills more than 50,000 people every year. Of the estimated eight to eleven million people living with this disease, it is assumed that most of these people do not even know they have it so it is likely that it could result in death. Every year about sixteen to eighteen million people become infected and an estimated one-hundred million people are at risk of becoming infected every year.
Where Does This Disease Occur?
Chagas disease is most prevalent in Latin America. Approximately 21 different countries have cases of this disease every year. It is estimated that approximately 25% of the Latin America population are at risk of this disease. This disease occurs most often in Central America, Mexico and South America. In occurs more often in rural areas, but those in urban areas are not exempt from this infection. This disease does occur in other countries such as the United States, but it is not endemic in non-Latin American countries. When this disease occurs in countries such as the United States, it is most likely because someone traveled to one of the Latin American countries.
SBRI. (2008). Chagas Disease. Retrieved on July 26, 2009 from Website: https://www.sbri.org/diseases/chagas.asp
CDC. (2008). Chagas Disease Fact Sheet. Retrieved on July 26, 2009 from Website: https://www.cdc.gov/chagas/factsheets/detailed.html