Chagas disease is commonly found in South and Central America but with the immigration, the threat of this disease has equally spread to US as well. This disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, which is related to trypanosome species which causes the famous “sleeping sickness” disease in Africa.
Causes of transmission
Trypanosoma cruzi is spread through the “kissing bugs” which belong to the family Reduviidae. This blood sucking parasite lives mainly in South and Central America so this disease is predominantly found here. Though kissing bugs act as vectors and people living in huts and poorly developed buildings have more chances of catching this disease, there are some other ways as well through which Chagas disease is transmitted. They are:
- Blood transfusion
- Organ transplant
- Food contaminated with the parasites
- From mother to fetus.
What are the Symptoms?
It has some:
- serious digestive problems
- abdominal pain
- difficulty in swallowing
- swelling in (one) eye
- The chronic illness disrupts the rhythm of the heart and even heart failure.
Digestive problems mainly occur because of the enlargement of colon, called megacolon and enlargement of esophagus, called megaesophagus.
How can we treat the Chagas disease?
There are drugs available in the market to treat this disease but this disease shows recurrence problems. It thus becomes very important to treat this disease and also prevent the recurrence. The prevention of this disease is gaining even more importance.
Though there are drugs available now to treat this disease with sufficient potential to remove the infection from the body but the rate of successful treatments decrease with the number of years a patient has been suffering from the infection.
The treatment has better chances of success in case of children with up to 95 percent but in case of adults this is about 60-85 percent while those with chronic Chagas disease or those who have repeated attack of this disease, chances are just 60 percent.
The two commonly used drugs are benznidazole and nifurtimox, which are azole or nitro derivatives.
The next problem with these drugs is that resistance has also been reported and there are some side effects as well, which are found mainly in case of older people. The side effects include:
- Loss of appetite and hence weight loss
- Dizziness and headache
- Problems in sleeping
- Rashes on skin
Prevention of the disease
Prevention is better than cure and rightly so. It is important to prevent the spread of the Chagas disease. It starts right with the pest control. Use of pesticides to kill the vectors is very important and also you should avoid putting up in the houses with insects. It is also important that to manage the good hygiene, especially the poor colonies need to educate about the hygiene and its importance in controlling the disease.
Since blood transfusion is emerging as one the main sources of the spread of this disease so it is important that the blood is tested for this disease. It is also important that the immigrants are tested and treated properly to prevent the spread of this disease.