Chagas Disease, an incurable infection, called the ‘new AIDS of the Americas’: report

By: Meghan Neal / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Oxford Scientific/Getty Images

Chagas disease is a parasitic infection transmitted by blood-sucking insects,  largely in impovershed areas.

Experts have dubbed it the “new AIDS of the Americas.”

A parasitic infection called Chagas Disease has similarities to the early  spread of HIV, according to research published recently in the journal PLoS  Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Like AIDS, Chagas is hard to detect and has a long incubation period before  symptoms emerge, the study said, according to the New York Times.

As many as 8 million people are infected in the Western Hemisphere, mainly  in Bolivia, Mexico, Colombia and Central America, as well as some 30,000 people  in the U.S., the newspaper reported. Chagas infects people in areas of poverty,  and most U.S. cases are found in immigrants.

Because Chagas is often left untreated, it spreads easily, either  genetically or through blood transfusion. If caught early, it can be treated  with intense medication, but the drugs are scarce in poor countries and very  little money is invested in searching for new treatments, the paper said.

Chagas is usually transmitted from the bite of blood-sucking insects that  release a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi into the victim’s bloodstream. The  parasite can eventually make its way to the heart, where it can live and  multiply.

Infections often stay dormant for years, and then emerge as heart  arrhythmias and heart failure. About a quarter of victims develop enlarged heart  or intestines that can lead to sudden death if they burst, according to the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/incurable-infection-called-aids-americas-report-article-1.1086053#ixzz1wfAVUiUc

DISEASE – Chagas, a tropical disease spread by insects, is causing some fresh concern following an editorial—published earlier this week in a medical journal—that called it ‘the new AIDS of the Americas.” More than 8 million people have been infected by Chagas, most of them in Latin and Central America. But more than 300,000 live in the United States. The editorial, published by the Public Library of Science’s Neglected Tropical Diseases, said the spread of the disease is reminiscent of the early years of HIV. “There are a number of striking similarities between people living with Chagas disease and people living with HIV/AIDS,” the authors wrote, “particularly for those with HIV/AIDS who contracted the disease in the first two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.” Both diseases disproportionately affect people living in poverty, both are chronic conditions requiring prolonged, expensive treatment, and as with patients in the first two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, “most patients with Chagas disease do not have access to health care facilities.” Unlike HIV, Chagas is not a sexually-transmitted disease: it’s “caused by parasites transmitted to humans by blood-sucking insects,’ as the New York Times put it. “It likes to bite you on the face,” CNN reported. “It’s called the kissing bug. When it ingests your blood, it excretes the parasite at the same time. When you wake up and scratch the itch, the parasite moves into the wound and you’re infected.” –Yahoo

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