Understanding Chagas disease in the U.S.

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Chagas disease, a parasitic and chronic disease, has infected about 6 million people and kills about 12,000 each year in North and South America. pan american health organization.

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why it matters: Despite its high numbers, there is a lack of knowledge about the deadly disease in the US, which has been Called “America’s New AIDS.” less than 1 People with Chagas are diagnosed and treated in the US due to low awareness of the infection among health providers.

  • Chaga mostly attack in poor areas, where falling ill can impair physical and mental development, making living difficult and poverty persisting. find.
  • WHO has classified it as “neglected tropical disease.”

of note: Chagas is most commonly transmitted by the bites of triatomine insects, also known as “kissing bugs,” but can also be transmitted through blood transfusions, organ transplants, from contaminated foods, and from mother to child during pregnancy. .

  • Symptoms include fever, headache, cough, bloating and abdominal pain.
  • In advanced cases, people can develop cardiac complications., Such as an enlarged heart or cardiac arrest, and gastrointestinal issues such as dilatation of the esophagus or colon.

By numbers: NS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention There are estimated to be more than 300,000 Chaga cases in the US. However, this number only considers infections among immigrants.

  • There are some US-acquired infections. Susan Montgomery, leader of the epidemiology team in the CDC’s Parasitic Diseases Branch, told Nerdshala that the CDC believes 60 to 300 babies are born with Chagas in the U.S. each year.
    • He said that at least 75 people in the US have acquired the disease from vectors.
  • Overall, however, the exact incidence and prevalence of Chagas disease in the country remains Stranger.

Between the lines: If Chagas disease is diagnosed early, it can be treated successfully.

  • However, because early symptoms are relatively common, health providers often do not consider Chagas as a possible diagnosis.
    • Chagas should be diagnosed through a specific blood test which detects the presence of parasites.
  • This disease can go unnoticed as only blood donation is systematically screened American Society for Microbiology.
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Montgomery said it was “challenging”. To raise the profile of the disease because “it’s not as big an issue for the entire population” as other concerns, such as the coronavirus pandemic.

  • “It’s always going to be a problem in our migrants from endemic countries, so their ability to access healthcare is, you know, it’s always going to be a challenge, regardless of their Chagas disease status. So they have issues like that. are broader than anything the CDC can take,” Montgomery said.

What are they saying: “It disproportionately affects the marginalized community of immigrants, Latinx immigrants, and our public health care system has ignored them and may be ignoring them,” said Daisy Hernandez, a journalist and Author “The Kissing Bug,” K Nerdshala reported.

do not forget: Latinos as a group have the highest percentage of people without health insurance of any ethnicity in the US

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