Chagas disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite linked to the African trypanosome that leads to sleeping sickness. The disease multiplies due to reduvid bugs and is one of the major health problems in South America. Immigration has led to Chagas disease spreading in the United States as well
Risk factors of Chagas Disease
1. Poor areas of Central or South America
2. Residing in hutments with walls that house reduvid bugs
3. Getting a blood transfusion from someone who has the parasite but does not have Chagas disease
Chagas disease symptoms
The symptoms of Chagas disease can vary depending on which stage of infection, a person is in. For instance, in the early acute state, the symptoms are mild and do not produce anything more than localized swelling at the area of infection. The acute phase in the beginning can be treated with antiparasitic medication with 60 to 90 percent success rate. After 4 to 8 weeks are elapsed, people who have active infections through Chagas can enter the chronic phase that is asymptomatic for 60–80% of chronically infected individuals through their lifetime
Acute symptoms of Chagas Disease
Swollen red area or inflammation at the area of the insect bite. :
After the acute phase the disease enters remission stage.
Chronic symptoms of Chagas disease
• Digestive problems
• Pain in the abdomen
Difficulty while swallowing
Diagnosis of Chagas Disease
The diagnosis and tests for Chagas disease can include
• Electrocardiogram (ECG)
• Enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA)
• Peripheral blood smear
• Blood culture
• Chest x-ray
During the course of diagnosis Chagas disease, the health-care provider looks for irregular heart-beats (arrhythmia), rapid heart-beats or tachycardia, swollen lymph nodes, enlarged spleen and liver.
Chagas Disease treatment
The acute as well as the reactive phase of Chagas disease can be treated. There are two drugs that can treat Chagas disease- nifurtimox and benznidazole. There are side-effects in the two medications which are more visible in older people. These side effects can be problems with sleep, skin rashes, headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, neuropathy and weight loss.
Chagas Disease Prognosis
• About 32% of infected people who do not get treated properly can develop chronic or symptomatic Chagas disease. It may take more than 20 years from the time of the original infection to develop heart or digestive problems.Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias, ventricular tachycardia) can trigger sudden death. Once heart failure develops, death can follow in some years. The complications with Chagas diseae includes heart diseae, heart failure, enlargement of the colon (megacolon), (megaesophagus), cardiomyopathy and malnutrition.
Prevent Chagas Disease
Chagas disease can be prevented with proper insecticides that may be sprayed to prevent reduvid bugs from being in or around the area. Blood banks should be screened for donors who have exposure to the parasite. In fact, in 2007, blood banks in the US began to screen for Chagas disease.
Chagas Disease Pictures