Chagas Disease

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Introduction

Chagas disease, also called American trypanosomiasis, is a life threatening ailment caused by a parasite found in the fecal matter of a beetle (CDC, 2013). Worldwide, Chagas disease currently infects 7 to 8 million people, mostly in poverty stricken areas of Latin America.  There is some transmission of the disease in the United States, Canada, Europe and some Western Pacific countries due to population mobility and global travel. (WHO, 2014). Children are often diagnosed with the disease, although it can infect anyone, causing serious heart and digestive problems (Mayo Clinic, 2014). If treatment is initiated soon after infection the disease is curable, however up to 30% of people can develop chronic symptoms (WHO, 2014). Because vector control is the most effective way of dealing with Chagas disease, the United States spends about $5 million annually on education, prevention, and insecticide sprays to kill the beetles (WHO, 2014).

Chagas-Disease-Figure-1

Figure 1 Migration routes from Latin America and estimation of the total number of infected individuals in non-endemic countries http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v465/n7301_supp/full/nature09221.html