American Trypanosomiasis (Chaga's Disease)

American Trypanosomiasis is present from Mexico to Argentina and affects 20 million people worldwide.

It is caused by a protozoa, transmitted from assassin or kissing bugs (reduviid bugs).

It also can be acquired during birth (mother to infant), during breast-feeding and by transfusion.

No vaccine exists.

People should avoid adobe style huts where these bugs like to live in the walls and come out at night.

These bugs are found in the cracks of adobe houses, in palm leaf roots; and in woodpiles, chicken coops and goat pens.

They typically feed on the warmer parts of the face- lips and ears earning them the name "kissing bugs". Insect repellent and screens will help stop them.

Symptoms of disease include: swelling at bite and sometimes at eyes and fever in the first 10 days. Itchy rash and lymph enlargement also occur.

The heart, brain and intestinal tract are affected later, causing chronic and fatal disease.

A blood test diagnoses this disease.

Drug treatment helps in the early symptoms.

For more detailed information please consult the following websites:
World Health Organization WHO
Center for Disease Control CDC