Chagas: Is tropical disease really the new AIDS?

Chagas: Is tropical disease really the new AIDS?

Iola : KS : USA | Jun 01, 2012 at 11:02 AM PDT
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Norma Andrews Part 1: Trypanosoma cruzi and Chagas' Disease English Subtitle

Those who are unfamiliar with Chagas disease in America must realize that it is now considered to be the new AIDS of the America.

According to Plos Journal, Chagas disease, typically transmitted by tropical biting insects, poses a global threat, similar to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, particularly in the Americas' and Europe.

"There are a number of striking similarities between people living with Chagas disease and people living with HIV/AIDS," the authors wrote in editorial, published by the Public Library of Science's , "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. But unlike AIDS, Chagas disease is not sexually transmitted; it is caused by human blood sucking parasites.

Talking about the bug, the CNN report showed that the Chagas disease causing bug, usually prefers biting on the human face. Therefore, it is also named as kissing bug. At the time when the bug is ingesting blood, it also excretes the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which then causes the disease. Sadly the disease kills up to 20,000 people every year.

In Chagas disease, there are two phases. The Acute and the Chronic phase. The acute phase is also called the unnoticed phase and is rarely deadly. However in Chronic phase, the infection can subsist silently, without symptoms for several years. Chronic-phase symptoms appear in about a third of patients and can be devastating. Popular symptoms of chromic phase include enlarged heart, altered heart rhythm, heart attack and failure.

If Chagas disease is diagnosed early, it can be prevented. However for the patients above the age of 50, it is mostly deadly. The only medicine used in treating Chagas disease is nifurtimox and benznidazole. Both of these drugs are not approved by the FDA and, in the U.S., and must be obtained by doctors through the CDC.

Moreover, there are certain methods which can be used to prevent the spreading of Chagas disease. These methods mainly focus on spraying insecticides, use of bed nets and also improved housing.

Chagas disease has rapidly increased in United States over the years. The disease has especially targeted poor housing areas. Therefore, there is need to spray insecticides in such areas on war footings.

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A chronology of HIV/AIDS since the disease was first identified
A chronology of HIV/AIDS since the disease was first identified
Michelle Lincaster is based in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America, and is a Reporter on Allvoices.
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