Chagas' disease, also known as American trypanomiasis, is a parasitic
disease found only on in poor rural areas of South and Central America,
caused by the trypanosome Trypanosoma
cruzi (a parasitic protozoan) and
carried by insects. Especially prevalent in children and young adults, it
is transmitted to humans when the trypanosomes, present in the feces of
nocturnal reduviid bugs, come into contact with wounds and scratches on
the skin or the delicate internal tissues of the nose and mouth. The presence
of the parasite in the heart muscles and central nervous system results
in serious inflammation and lesions, which can prove fatal. In the acute
form, there is swelling around the eye, fever,
malaise, enlargement of lymph nodes, liver, and spleen,
and edema. Most cases, however, recover fully.
Treatment is possible with nifurtimox. The disease is named after the Brazilian
physician C. Chagas (1879–1934).
|Transmission cycle of Chagas' disease