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Trypanosoma cruzi, protozoan parasite that causes Chagas disease

Dr. Myron G. Schultz/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (Image Number: 613)

What is Chagas disease?

Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and is spread by infected bugs called triatomines or kissing bugs.

The feces of the kissing bug contain parasites that cause Chagas disease. While feeding the insect will poop. Transmission of the parasite can occur when the person scratches the bite and rubs the feces onto the wound.

Chagas can also be spread from:

Mother to baby

Blood transfusion

Organ transplant

Chagas disease CANNOT be transmitted through casual contact.

What are the symptoms of Chagas disease?

Symptoms weeks to months after a bite include:

Fever and body aches

Swelling of the eyelid

Swelling at the bite mark

After this first part of the illness, most people have no symptoms and many don’t ever get sick

But some people (less than half) do get sick later, and they may have:

Irregular heartbeats that can cause sudden death

An enlarged heart that doesn’t pump blood well

Problems with digestion and bowel movements

An increased chance of having a stroke

If you think you may have Chagas disease, see a healthcare provider who can examine you and determine if a blood test is needed.

Who can get Chagas disease? /¿Quien puede contraer la enfermedad de Chagas?

Anyone can contract Chagas; however, you can increase the chance if:

Live in rural areas of Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Have encountered a kissing bug.

Stayed in a house with a thatched roof or walls that have cracks or crevices.

For more information on Chagas disease please visit here.

Credit: CDC