Chagas’s Disease


Chagas’s disease is formally named after a Brazilian physician as well asDoctor Chagas Carlos, who was the first to discover the disease in early 1909. The disease is a potentially human life-threatening that is caused by a dangerous parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), which is transmitted to humans and animals by an insect vector, and is commonly found in the endemic regions such as Latin America. The vector-borne is mostly spread to humans through contact with faeces of triatomine bugs or kissing bugs. Chagas disease (T. cruzi) is commonly known as an American trypanosomiasis. The disease is now one of the parasitic infections that have been neglected in the United States, a family of about five parasitic infectious illnesses that have been the main focus by the United Sates Center for disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for world health initiatives.

According to survey done by Dr. Desowitz, the former director of the CDC indicates that Chagas disease prevails mostly in the Latin America and about 7 to 8 million people are estimated to be infected by the disease worldwide. The cost of treating and preventing Chagas’s disease is still substantial. For example, in only Colombia, the annual medical care cost for the disease was about $USD 268 million in 2009. Furthermore, the annual cost of spraying insecticide to kill the parasites, was about $USD 6 million in that year. However, in the last decades it has been increasingly detected especially in the USA, Canada, and in the western pacific countries. The increase has been as a result of population mobility between Latin America and the outside countries.

Chagas disease tends to present itself into two phases. The first, acute phase can last for about two months after the infection. According to Velasco, (2012) he explains that during an acute phase, a great number of parasites tend to circulate in the blood but sometimes signs or symptoms are mild. About 50% of the humans bitten by the triatomine bugs, the first visible signs can be a skin purplish or lesion swelling especially the lids of an eye, they can eventually cause fever, pallor, muscle pain, headache, difficulty in breathing, and abdominal pain. The second is the chronic phase, in which the parasites are hidden in the digestive and heart muscles. A study conducted by Sburg, (2012) indicates that approximately 35% patients experience or suffer from cardiac (heart) disorders and about 15% suffer from a digestive disorder (commonly in the oesophagus or colon enlargement) and mixed alterations. The infection can eventually lead to death and heart failures due to progressive destruction of the nervous system and the heart muscles.

However, it possible/easier with our current health care systems to diagnose and treat the disease outbreaks and put out “spot fires” even though it might cost many counties staggering sum of money. The Chagas disease can be diagnosed by an observation of the parasites in a thick and thin blood smears by a microscopic examination. A thick and thin blood smear is conducted and stained for direct and clear visualization of parasites (Sburg, 2012). However, the blood smears work very well in the initial, acute phase of the symptom when the parasites are detected circulating in the blood. The diagnosis of a chronic Chagas disease is clinically made after consideration of the physician’s findings and the probability of being infected. However, according to the survey done by Velasco, (2012) diagnosis is usually made by a clinical test with at least two-to-three diagnostic examinations of blood, such as laboratory diagnosis of malaria and Plasmodium ovale.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two effective approaches thattreat Chagas disease: Symptomatic treatments, to manage the symptoms and the antiparasitic treatment that can effectively kill the parasites. However, to kill the parasites, the disease can be treated with nifurtimox and benznidazole. Both medications are 100% effective in curing the disease if prescribed at the beginning of an acute phase. Treatment is also prescribed for clients in whom the infection is concurrently reactivated due to immunosuppression, such as infants with a congenital infection, and for clients during the early chronic phase.

The CDC indicates that there is no vaccine for Chagas disease. However, vector control is one of the most effective methods of prevention. Since the Trypanosoma cruzi infects many species, WHO and CDC recommend the following methods to control and prevent:

Spraying of houses and use of paints that contain insecticides with residual, improving sanitary and housing conditions to prevent vector infestation is recommended. Blood screening and testing is necessary to prevent infection through organ transplantation and transfusion of donated blood. The WHO also recommends screening of newborn babies and children of infected mothers to give early diagnosis and treatment.

The parasite (T. cruzi) that causes Chagas disease is transmitted to humans and animals by an insect vector. Many experts of vector control have been struggling and suggested some control measures to prevent its spread. To gain the main goal of reducing the level of Chagas disease transmission and offer health-care for ill or infected patients, in non-endemic and endemic regions, WHO and CDC aims to improve global networking and reinforce national and regional capacities. For example, strengthening global awareness and epidemiological surveillance systems, expanding the identification of diagnostic laboratory test and screening of infections have been implemented.


Velasco, J.D. (2012, August 19). Infestation of Asian tiger mosquitoes growing in El Monte. Retrieved November 6, 2015, from The Pasadena Star-News:

Sburg, J. (2012, June 21). AFRICA MONEY-Waking up to the maths of malaria. Retrieved November 6, 2015, from REUTERS:


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