Chagas disease (Trypanosomiasis)

Abdomen | General Practice | Chagas disease (Trypanosomiasis) (Disease)


Chagas disease is an inflammatory, infectious disease caused by a parasite found in the feces of the triatomine bug, the flagellate protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, common in South America, Central America and Mexico. Also called American trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease can infect anyone, but is diagnosed most often in children.

When symptoms finally develop in chronic phase, they may include: constipation, digestive problems, pain in the abdomen and swallowing difficulties, cardiomyopathy, and irregular heartbeat. Signs and symptoms of the chronic phase of Chagas disease may occur 10 to 20 years after initial infection, or they may never occur.

Causes and Risk factors

Risk of infestation are actions like: eating uncooked food contaminated with feces from T. cruzi-infected bugs; being born to a woman infected with T. cruzi; having a blood transfusion containing infected blood; getting an organ transplant containing viable T. cruzi; working in a laboratory where theres an accidental exposure to the parasite; Spending time in a forest that contains infected wild animals, such as raccoons and opossums; being with an infected pet.

Chagas disease has two phases: acute and chronic. The acute phase may have no symptoms or very mild symptoms including: fever, general ill feeling (malaise), swelling of one eye and swollen red area at site of insect bite. After the acute phase, the disease goes into remission.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The presence of T. cruzi is diagnostic of Chagas disease. It can be detected by microscopic examination of fresh anticoagulated blood.

There are two approaches to treating Chagas disease, antiparasitic treatment, to kill the parasite; and symptomatic treatment, to manage the symptoms and signs of infection. ...