Chagas Disease: The Epidemic You Haven’t Heard Of Yet

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Posted May 30, 2012 by Johnny2x in Science

Chagas Disease is not a common house hold word BUT there are an estimated 1 million cases of it now in the United States.

Up to one-third of those infected are at risk of Chagas’ worst complications, enlarged heart and heart failure. And wherever blood donations are not tested for the protozoan, the blood supply — as well as organ transplants — are at risk.

Want to hear something creepy?

 The disease originates with the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, harbored in the guts of long-beaked Triatoma bugs such as the one above. The insects live in wall crevices and thatched roofs; at night, they crawl out and drop onto people sleeping below. They prefer to bite at the lip margin, which earned them the name “kissing bugs.” After they ingest blood, they defecate, pooping out copies of the parasite at the same time. The person wakes up, feels the itch where they were bitten, scratches or rubs the bite, and rubs the parasite-containing feces into the wound. Voila, Chagas infection.

Ok so I won’t  be sleeping for a few nights….

Chagas transmission is squick-making. The disease originates with the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, harbored in the guts of long-beaked Triatoma bugs such as the one above. The insects live in wall crevices and thatched roofs; at night, they crawl out and drop onto people sleeping below. They prefer to bite at the lip margin, which earned them the name “kissing bugs.” After they ingest blood, they defecate, pooping out copies of the parasite at the same time. The person wakes up, feels the itch where they were bitten, scratches or rubs the bite, and rubs the parasite-containing feces into the wound. Voila, Chagas infection.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Chagas disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite related to the African trypanosome that causes sleeping sickness. It is spread by reduvid bugs and is one of the major health problems in South America. Due to immigration, the disease also affects people in the United States.

Risk factors for Chagas disease include:

  • Living in a hut where reduvid bugs live in the walls
  • Living in Central or South America
  • Poverty
  • Receiving a blood transfusion from a person who carries the parasite but does not have active Chagas disease

    Symptoms

    Chagas disease has two phases: acute and chronic. The acute phase may have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Symptoms include:

    • Fever
    • General ill feeling (malaise)
    • Swelling of one eye
    • Swollen red area at site of insect bite

    After the acute phase, the disease goes into remission. No other symptoms may appear for many years. When symptoms finally develop, they may include:

Read all about it here

Source: wired.com

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About the Author

Johnny2x

John created the HowsYourRobot.com just because he cares about each and everyone of you. He likes science, technology, movies, and music. He also likes long walks in the park but only at night and in most dangerous park he can find AND he discovered the internet while playing in his back yard as a child. Some of this is true and some of it is not.

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