What Is American Trypanosomiasis

What Is American Trypanosomiasis ?

American trypanosomiasis, also known as Chagas disease, is commonly found in South and Central America. In fact, it is one of the major health problems prevailing in South America. It is caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi. It is spread by an insect commonly known as the kissing bug.

The insect gets its name as it emerges in the night and feeds on the blood of the victim while they are sleeping. After they bite, they defecate on the person and the feces containing the protozoan enter the wound and starts infecting the blood. Once the protozoans enter the host, they start multiplying and spread the infection in the person’s body.


Chagas disease can be transmitted by blood transfusion, transplantation of organs and also by accidental exposure in the laboratory. In addition, it could also spread through breast milk or congenitally from a pregnant woman to the fetus during child-bearing.


The human disease occurs in two stages -- acute and chronic. The acute stage occurs shortly in the first few months of the infection whereas the chronic stage develops over many years. The symptoms include rashes, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, body aches, headaches, general illness, fever and fatigue.


The physical symptoms include local swelling in the location of the bug-bite, swollen glands and enlargement of liver. Generally, the symptoms in the acute phase resolve spontaneously during the first three to eight weeks. However, for people with weakened immune systems, the infection may persist and lead to a chronic phase which could affect the nervous system, the heart and even the digestive system.


Anti-parasitic treatment is effective mostly in the early course of infection but there is no permanent cure for this infection so far.

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What Is American Trypanosomiasis