What is the definition of Chagas Disease?
Chagas disease is caused by the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. The triatomine bug, which can carry the parasite, most often bites a person's face and therefore is more commonly known as the "kissing bug". When a triatomine bug infected with Trypanosoma cruzi bites, it can leave behind infected waste which can be spread into the person's eyes, nose, or a wound. Chagas disease can also spread through contaminated food, a blood transfusion, a donated organ, or from mother to baby during pregnancy. Symptoms may include fever, flu-like symptoms, a rash, or swollen eyelid. Early symptoms usually go away without treatment, but can last a few weeks or months. However, if not treated in the early phase, the parasite can become active again years later. In fact, 20-30% of infected people will later develop serious problems affecting their heart, intestines, or espophagus. This risk is greater for those with a weakened immune system. Chagas disease is common in Latin America, but not in the United States.
The two drugs used to treat Chagas disease are nifurtimox and benznidazole. On August 30, 2017, the FDA approved benznidazole to treat Chagas disease in children between the ages of 2 to 12 years old. Nifurtimox may also used to treat Chagas disease. Although not FDA approved, nifurtimox can be obtained for the treatment of Chagas disease in the United States through special CDC studies. Similarly, benznidazole is also available through special CDC studies for those with Chagas disease whose treatment is deemed necessary by their doctor but whose age falls outside FDA approval.
What are the alternative names for Chagas Disease?
- American trypanosomiasis
- South American trypanosomiasis
- New world trypanosomiasis