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World Chagas Disease Day

Today is World Chagas Disease Day.  According to the WHO, there are approximately 6-7 million people infected with Chagas disease worldwide, with 12,000 deaths every year.

First diagnosed by Dr. Chagas in 1909, is a disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is found in the Americas and is primarily transmitted to animals and people by triatomine bugs in rural areas of Latin America; other ways of transmission include via blood transfusion, organ transplantation, mother-to-baby, and foodborne transmission.

Once acute infection resolves, patients can develop chronic disease with cardiac, digestive, or neurological manifestations. In people who have suppressed immune systems (for example, due to AIDS or chemotherapy), the disease can reactivate, potentially causing a severe disease. The overall efficacy and tolerability profile of therapeutic agents is far from ideal, and better treatment schemes still need to be investigated for the chronic phase.

Raising awareness of the disease is essential to improve early treatment and cure rates and interrupt its transmission. This year's theme is "Tackling Chagas disease: detect early and care for life," as efforts are still needed to strengthen access to early diagnosis, including screening starting at the primary care level, as well as safe treatment, lifelong care, and surveillance.

Read more from the World Health Organization (WHO)

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