About brazilian trypanosomiasis
What is brazilian trypanosomiasis?
Chagas Disease is a tropical infectious disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It is transmitted by the bite of one of several species of blood-sucking insects or by blood transfusion. Acute Chagas Disease usually affects children and typically presents as the mild phase of the disease. However, this is generally followed by a long period of low level, parasitic infection (parasitemia). Many years later, about 10 to 30 percent of people with Chagas Disease develop the more severe symptoms associated with "chronic" Chagas Disease. The heart and digestive systems are most frequently involved in this phase of the disease. The most common features of late chronic Chagas Disease include abnormal enlargement of the esophagus (megaesophagus) and colon (megacolon), and congestive heart failure. Chagas Disease occurs primarily in Central and South America.
What are the symptoms for brazilian trypanosomiasis?
The acute phase of Chagas disease, which lasts for weeks or months, is often symptom-free. When signs and symptoms do occur, they are usually mild and may include:
- Swelling at the infection site
- Body aches
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- Loss of appetite
- Nausea, diarrhea or Vomiting
- Swollen glands
- Enlargement of your liver or spleen
Signs and symptoms that develop during the acute phase usually go away on their own. In some cases, if the infection isn't treated, Chagas disease will advance to the chronic phase.
Signs and symptoms of the chronic phase of Chagas disease may occur 10 to 20 years after initial infection, or they may never occur. In severe cases, Chagas disease signs and symptoms may include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart failure
- Sudden cardiac arrest
- Difficulty swallowing due to enlarged esophagus
- Stomach pain or constipation due to enlarged colon
What are the causes for brazilian trypanosomiasis?
The cause of Chagas disease is the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which is spread from an insect known as the triatomine bug, or "kissing bug." These insects can become infected by this parasite when they swallow blood from an animal that is infected with the parasite.
Triatomine bugs live primarily in mud, thatch or adobe huts in Mexico, South America and Central America. They hide in crevices in the walls or roof during the day and come out at night — often feeding on sleeping humans.
Infected bugs defecate after feeding, leaving behind parasites on the skin. The parasites can then enter your body through your eyes, mouth, a cut or scratch, or the wound from the bug's bite.
Scratching or rubbing the bite site helps the parasites enter your body. Once in your body, the parasites multiply and spread.
You may also become infected by:
- Eating uncooked food contaminated with feces from bugs infected with the parasite
- Being born to a person who is infected with the parasite
- Getting a blood transfusion or an organ transplant from someone who was infected with the parasite
- Being accidentally exposed to the parasite while working in a lab
- Spending time in a forest that contains infected wild animals, such as raccoons and opossums
What are the treatments for brazilian trypanosomiasis?
Treatment for Chagas disease focuses on killing the parasite and managing signs and symptoms.
During the acute phase of Chagas disease, the prescription medications benznidazole and nifurtimox (Lampit) may be of benefit. Both drugs are available in the regions most affected by Chagas disease. In the United States, however, the drugs can be obtained only through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Once Chagas disease reaches the chronic phase, medications won't cure the disease. But, the drugs may be offered to people younger than age 50 because they may help slow the progression of the disease and its most serious complications.
Additional treatment depends on the specific signs and symptoms:
- Heart-related complications. Treatment may include medications, a pacemaker or other devices to control your heart rhythm, surgery, or even a heart transplant.
- Digestive-related complications. Treatment may include diet changes, medications, corticosteroids or, in severe cases, surgery.
What are the risk factors for brazilian trypanosomiasis?
The following factors may increase your risk of getting Chagas disease:
- Living in poor rural areas of Central America, South America and Mexico
- Living in a residence that contains triatomine bugs
- Receiving a blood transfusion or organ transplant from a person who carries the infection
It's rare for travelers to the at-risk areas in South America, Central America and Mexico to catch Chagas disease because travelers tend to stay in well-constructed buildings, such as hotels. Triatomine bugs are usually found in structures built with mud or adobe or thatch.