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- Patient Comments: Chagas Disease - Symptoms
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- Chagas disease (kissing bug disease) facts
- What is Chagas disease?
- What is the history of Chagas disease?
- What causes Chagas disease?
- Is Chagas disease contagious?
- What are the risk factors for Chagas disease?
- What are symptoms and signs of Chagas disease?
- How do health-care professionals diagnose Chagas disease?
- What is the treatment for Chagas disease?
- What types of physicians treat Chagas disease?
- Can transmission of Chagas disease be prevented with a vaccine?
- What is the prognosis for Chagas disease?
- What are the complications of Chagas disease?
- What research is being done for Chagas disease?
What is Chagas disease?
Chagas disease (also termed American trypanosomiasis) is an infection caused by a protozoan parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi) that can result in acute inflammatory skin changes (chagomas) and eventually may cause infection and inflammation of many other body tissues, especially those of the heart and intestinal tract. The disease was named after Dr. Carlos Chagas, who discovered the disease in 1909. The disease may have three phases in an individual: acute, with mild or no symptoms that may last weeks to about two months; intermediate or indeterminate phase that has few if any symptoms and may last 10-20 years or longer; and chronic phase that appears after about 20 years, with the more severe symptoms appearing from gradual chronic organ damage (especially to the heart and intestine, although other organs may be affected) with symptoms that usually remain for life. People with Chagas disease seen in the U.S. usually have acquired it while living in a country where the disease is endemic (Mexico and Central and South America).
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates about 8-11 million people are infected in countries where the disease is endemic. The parasites are transferred to humans by the bite of blood-sucking triatomine bugs in the subfamily Triatominae, also termed "kissing bugs." The disease has been diagnosed in the U.S., mainly in immigrants from South and Central America. Triatomine bugs have been detected in Texas, and recently the CDC communicated that the bugs have now been found in 28 states, including California and Pennsylvania.
American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) is distinguished from African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness or African sleeping sickness) by the part of the world where they occur, their vectors, and their different symptoms and different treatments (see Table 1).
|American trypanosomiasis||African trypanosomiasis|
|Cause||T. cruzi||T. brucei (subspecies)|
|Main vector||Triatomine bugs (also termed kissing bugs)||Tsetse fly|
|Main symptoms||Chagomas, heart, gastrointestinal||Chancres, nighttime insomnia, seizures|
|Treatment||Benznidazole, nifurtimox; symptomatic treatments in chronic phase||Suramin, melarsoprol, pentamidine, eflornithine|