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Chagas disease: symptoms, contagion and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Chagas disease, also known as trypanosomiasis, is a tropical disease that can have quite essential consequences. If it is not treated, it can put the lives of those affected at risk due to the critical long-term effects. Indifferent vital organs. The countries that are often affected by this disease have linked it to social and economic problems due to its significant repercussions. Knowing about the existence of this disease and how to avoid it or treat it promptly is essential for people who live in countries where it is considered an endemic disease and people who travel to these countries for tourism or any other reasons. Reason. This FastlyHealarticle will explain everything about the Chagas disease: symptoms, contagion, and treatment.

Causes of Chagas disease

Chagas disease is caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which lives in the feces of a group of insects colloquially called bedbugs, chips, vinchucas, and in many other ways depending on the country in question, and which groups of small insects beetle-like that feed on mammalian blood. When the insect bites its victim, it can defecate, thus releasing bacteria that sometimes enter the bloodstream through the bite wound, thus causing disease.

Chagas disease is a disease that mainly affects the countries of Central and South America, although it has also been found in the southern region of the United States. It develops primarily in the poorest areas of endemic countries due to poor sanitary conditions. This pathology can also affect people who travel for different reasons to the regions where the parasite lives.

Transmission of Chagas disease

There are several mechanisms through which the parasite that causes Chagas disease can enter the body and cause the symptoms of this disease:

Usually, it is related to the bite of the carrier insect. Still, the parasite is found not in its saliva. Still, in the feces, if the insect defecates immediately after biting its victim and the victim scratches the wound, it can cause the parasite’s entry into the bloodstream. There is also the possibility of contagion through the mucous membranes, such as the eye.

Transmission from a pregnant mother contaminated with the parasite to her baby is possible. Although it does not affect the baby’s development or breastfeeding, the affected child can manifest the symptoms of the disease, so it is essential to carry out a study to rule out the presence of the virus in babies when the mothers have been affected.

The possibility of direct transmission of the parasite through a blood transfusion has meant that among the studies carried out on blood donors or blood, they include the discard of the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

In countries where Chagas disease is considered an endemic disease, oral transmission of the parasite is a risk, especially when consuming fruit juices that have been improperly washed.

An infrequent transmission route is transmitted through a cut or puncture by health personnel who work handling the carrier insects or parasites.

Symptoms of Chagas disease

Chagas disease is characterized by having two main phases:

Acute phase

During the acute stage, the affected person usually presents non-specific symptoms such as:

  • Fever.
  • Headache, muscle, or joint pain.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea.
  • General discomfort.
  • Swollen glands.
  • There may be an enlargement of the liver or pancreas and edema of the extremities.
  • The region where the parasite’s entry occurred may present a painless hardening called chagoma.

Chronic phase

During the chronic phase, the main problems are heart diseases such as damage to the heart muscle, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, aneurysms, production of pulmonary embolisms, and strokes, which can lead to the death of the affected person.

Heart problems often cause other issues such as hepatomegaly, lung congestion, respiratory distress, and megaesophagus or megacolon, accompanied by gastrointestinal problems such as pain when swallowing, reflux, constipation, and abdominal pain.

Chagas disease: treatment

The first step to applying a treatment when it is believed that a person is affected by Chagas disease is to make a correct diagnosis, for which it is necessary to do a blood test to detect the presence of the parasite under the microscope or to try to isolate and to cultivate the bacteria in a culture medium.

Once the parasite has been detected, it is necessary to implement antiparasitic drugs to control the progression of the disease and thus avoid the chronic severe problems caused by the parasite. However, this treatment is most effective when the condition is in its development stage and is less effective when chronic issues have been established.

In the chronic stage, treatments are usually aimed mainly at alleviating problems in other organs, primarily cardiac ones, which will be treated similarly to heart disease caused by different reasons; in the most severe cases, a transplant may even be needed from the heart.

Chagas disease prevention

Insects carrying the parasite have adapted exceptionally well even to civilized regions of countries where Chagas disease is considered an endemic disease, so prevention measures are of the utmost importance for the inhabitants and visitors of other countries.

These insects are characterized by feeding at night, so it is essential to consider not leaving the house if you are in a country region. The homes should have floors, walls, and ceilings without cracks since insects tend to hide in these spaces, and the regular application of insecticides helps a lot to reduce the number of insects in the homes.

It is recommended to use clothing that covers the extremities as much as possible for people at risk of infection, sleep with air conditioners, and use blankets.

Knowing how to recognize the insect can allow a person who has been bitten by it to take immediate action, going to the doctor to carry out the necessary studies and apply the treatment as soon as possible to favor the diagnosis.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Chagas disease: symptoms, contagion and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Immune system category .

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