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What is Chagas’ disease?

 

 

Also called American trypanosomiasis, Chagas' disease is an infection caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It is estimated that 16-18 million people are infected in South and Central America with Chagas’ disease; of those infected, 50,000 die each year. The vector of this illness is the Reduviid bug, triatomine.

 

 

What causes the disease?

 

Trypanosoma cruzi is the parasite responsible for Chagas’ Disease. These Protozoa belong to the Kinetoplastidae order and the Trypanosomatidae family.

 
 

T. cruzi has a length of approximately 20μm and it has a typical curved shape. They are flagellar organisms that have one nucleus and an organelle. It has a kinetoplast holding a mitochondrion and a mitochondrial DNA within an undulated membrane and a medium-sized flagellum.

 

 

How is Chagas’ Disease transmitted?

 

 

 

 

 

Chagas’ Disease is transmitted through the faeces of infected triatomine bugs and not through their bite. When the insect excretes the faeces, the trypanosomes in the faeces can penetrate mucus membranes, wounds or abrasions in the skin of the host.

The triatomines acquire the infection by feeding on an infected
vertebrate.


Other ways of transmission are through blood transfusions, organ transplants and from mother to fetus.

 
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