Chagas disease

Chagas disease

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Alternative Name: South American trypanosomiasis, Chagas-Cruz disease, Cruz trypanosomiasis.

Trypanosomiasis caused by Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), most strains of this parasite can be classified into two major groups, T. cruzi I and T. cruzi II, and transmitted by certain species of reduviid (triatomine) bugs.

Incubation period: 5-14 days.

Chagas disease is a vector-borne disease transmitted primarily by triatomine insects, which are also called reduviid insects, "kissing beetles/bugs" or "assassin bugs." More than 130 species of these insects appear to be capable of transmitting T. cruzi, with the most important species in the genera Triatoma, Rhodnius and Panstrongylus. The parasite usually completes its life cycle by cycling between an insect species and a mammalian species with which the insect lives in close association. The mammalian hosts include wildlife, domesticated animals, and humans.

Chagas disease

Anyone can get Chagas disease, but it is mainly found in poverty-stricken areas in Central and South America where homes are made from materials such as adobe, straw, mud, and palm thatch. During the day the insects that carry the parasite live in the walls of these homes and at night they come out while people sleep.

T. cruzi is not spread between mammals by casual contact. However, it can be transmitted directly via blood (e.g., in a blood transfusion) and in donated organs. Carnivores can acquire this organism when they eat infected prey. Vertical transmission has been reported in dogs and other animals, both in utero and in the milk.


Some common symptoms include:


  • Fatigue.

  • Body aches.

  • Headache.

  • Rash.

  • Loss of appetite.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Vomiting.


Cardiovascular: Cardiomyopathy,arrhythmias, conduction disturbances.

Gastrointestinal: Megaesophagus,megacolon.


The diagnosis of Chagas disease can be made by observation of the parasite in a blood smear by microscopic examination, isolation of the parasite, serology and molecular techniques.

Indirect immunofluorescence is the most commonly used serological test. Other assays include radioimmunoprecipitation (RIP), direct and indirect hemagglutination, complement fixation, and ELISAs (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay).


Acute Chagas disease can be treated with antiparasitic drugs. Antiparasitic drugs are less effective in the indeterminate and chronic stages, and treatment recommendations may vary with the age of the patient and other factors. There are significant side effects with these drugs, which must be given long term.

For cardiac or gastrointestinal problems resulting from Chagas disease, symptomatic treatment may be helpful. Patients should consult with their primary health care provider. Some patients may be referred to a specialist, such as a cardiologist, gastroenterologist, or infectious disease specialist.

Disclaimer:The above information is just informative purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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