CHAGAS DISEASE FACT SHEET
Chagas disease (named for the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas who first deliniated the Blood disease in 1909) is caused by a microscopic protozoan parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi) called the triatomine bug, also known as the reduviid or kissing bug, which is indigenous to Central and South America. Chagas Disease, more properly Chagas' Disease, which enters the human body through a break in the skin, infects as many as 18-million people worldwide and kills an estimated 50,000 people annually. The Chagas carrying parasite feeds on nerve tissue of organs such as the esophagus, colon or heart, often for years, without evident symptoms. Eventually, symptoms show, including painful swallowing (megaesophagus) or colon disorders (megacolon) or heart failure.
Chagas disease, a parasitic infection, is already a leading killer in Central and South America and is becoming a more common threat in the United States. As many as 100,000 immigrants to the United States from Central and South America may be infected with T. cruzi and contamination of the U.S. Blood supply is now becoming a serious potential problem. Chagas' Disease is documented to be transmitted through Blood transfusion.
Chagas disease is diagnosed by the administering of Blood tests.
Chagas' disease is also known as American trypanosomiasis and Brazilian trypanosomiasis.
People can become infected with Chagas Disease by:
Chagas disease can cause symptoms soon after infection, but many people do not become ill until many years later. Persons with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of severe infection, complications and death.
There are several signs and symptoms of Chagas disease. Some people become infected and never develop symptoms. For those who do, Chagas disease has three stages, each with different symptoms:
Chagas disease in humans initially induces fever, malaise, lymphadenopathy and hepatosplenomegaly, followed by dilated cardiomyopathy and conduction disturbances, as well as megaesophagus, megacolon and meningoencephalitis. A chagoma (local inflammation caused by the entry of T. cruzi) inflammatory lesion develops at the site of infection in the skin.
There is no vaccine or drug to prevent Chagas disease. Medicine given during the acute stage of infection is usually effective. Once the disease has progressed to the later (chronic) stages, there is no known effective cure.
Ideally, all donated Blood should be screened for Chagas. However, in order to maintain a pure Blood supply, there are a lot of people to be Blood tested. The incubation period can be quite long. After Blood is donated, testing for Chagas Disease is not simple. The testing of donated Blood is estimated to add from $1 to $5 to each one of the 14-million units of Blood donated in the United States each year.
What is needed to effectively protect the Blood supply from Chagas disease?
Animals can become infected with Chagas' Disease in the same ways as humans, or by eating a Chagas carrying bug
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last updated 09/22/2005 bloodbook.com