Twas not my lips you kissed but my soul - Judy Garland
image by: Daniel Neal
Global health topics are typically presented in the context of extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa or Asia. However, today approximately 100 million people in the Western Hemisphere also live on less than $2 per day. About 10 percent of these "bottom 100 million" currently live with a serious and life-threatening neglected disease known as Chagas disease or American trypanosomiasis.
Humans acquire Chagas disease microscopic parasites -- trypanosomes -- through contact with kissing bugs that thrive in poor quality and substandard housing. Trypanosomes selectively attack the heart so that up to one-third of people who acquire them progress…
In poorest countries of Latin America, such as Bolivia, Honduras, and Nicaragua, Chagas disease is the leading cause of heart disease. But it is also very common yet mostly hidden within pockets of extreme poverty in wealthier nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and even the United States, as well as among Latin American immigrants to Europe, Asia, and Australia.
As researchers, clinicians, patients, funders, civil society, and public health practitioners engaged in research and development (R&D) and implementation of treatment and prevention programs, we have decided to join forces to create a coalition aimed at changing the future of Chagas disease.
The Chagas Disease Foundation was established to promote the diagnosis, control, prevention, and treatment of Chagas disease. The Foundation will use its resources to facilitate scientific research, to educate and train researchers, to disseminate information on control and prevention, and for the development of policies for the sustainable prevention of Chagas disease.
The Chagas: Time to Treat Campaign was an international campaign launched by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) on July 9 2009, the centennial of the discovery of Chagas disease, to advocate for access to existing treatments and increased research and development (R&D) of new, more effective and safer treatments for Chagas disease.
Chagas disease is named after the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas, who discovered the disease in 1909. It is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to animals and people by insect vectors and is found only in the Americas (mainly, in rural areas of Latin America where poverty is widespread). Chagas disease (T. cruzi infection) is also referred to as American trypanosomiasis. In the United States, Chagas disease is considered one of the neglected parasitic infections (NPI), a group of five parasitic diseases that have been targeted by CDC for public health action.
Chagas is not as well known as diseases such as malaria or cholera yet it affects between six and seven million people and kills up to 12,500 each year.
Also called American trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease can infect anyone, but is diagnosed most often in children. Left untreated, Chagas disease later can cause serious heart and digestive problems. Treatment of Chagas disease focuses on killing the parasite in acute infection and managing signs and symptoms in later stages.
Unfortunately, if Chagas disease is not diagnosed and treated in the early phase, those infections that progress to chronic phase are then are diagnosed in this later stage when they are not easily treated because the damage to the body organs is usually irreversible.
If social media is any indication, many people are suddenly very concerned about dying from the bite of “kissing bugs.” Don’t be. The bugs are not any more likely to kill you than they have been for the last couple of centuries.
American Trypanosomiasis, also known as Chagas disease, is a potentially life-threatening zoonotic illness caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. The disease is most commonly seen in Central and South America, Trinidad, and the southern United States. However, it is less common outside of rural areas where vectors are commonly found in rustic housing.
Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). It is found mainly in endemic areas of 21 Latin American countries, where it is mostly vector-borne transmitted to humans by contact with faeces of triatomine bugs, known as 'kissing bugs', among other names, depending on the geographical area.
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