How chagas disease can affect your health?
Chagas disease is an inflammatory infection caused by the Trypanosoma parasite. This parasite is found in the feces of the triatomine (reduviid) beetle. This error is also known as a “kiss error”. Chagas disease is common in South America, Central America, and Mexico, the main habitat for the Triatomine beetle. Rare cases of Chagas disease have also been found in South America.
Chagas disease can cause a sudden short-term illness (acute). Or it could be a long-term (chronic) condition. Symptoms range from mild to severe, but many do not experience symptoms until the chronic phase.
The acute phase of Chagas disease lasting weeks or months is usually asymptomatic. When signs and symptoms do occur they are usually mild and include:
- swelling of the infected area
- body pain
- swelling of the eyelids
The signs and symptoms of the chronic phase of Chagas disease may or may not appear 10 to 20 years after the initial infection. In severe cases, signs and symptoms of Chagas disease include:
- irregular heartbeat
- heart failure
- sudden cardiac arrest
- Dysphagia due to enlarged esophagus
- Abdominal pain or constipation due to an enlarged colon
Treatment of Chagas disease is recommended for those diagnosed early in the onset of the infection (acute phase), infants with congenital infections, and infants with a depressed immune system. Many patients with chronic infections can also benefit from treatment.
Patients should consult their primary care provider. Some patients may be referred to a specialist such as a cardiologist, gastroenterologist, or infectious disease specialist.
Healthcare providers can talk to CDC staff about treatment options for Chagas disease.
A clinical trial has been launched in Argentina to see if a shorter regimen of the drug benznidazole has the potential to become a new standard treatment for Chagas disease to treat adult patients in the chronic phase of the disease, with fewer side effects. Read more about it on Outbreak News Today.
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