American trypanosomiasis or Chagas disease is a disease that is spread through insect bites named kissing bugs or Triatomine. This insect is mainly a human bite at night. Triatomine bites will transmit the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, the cause of the Chagas disease.
Chagas disease spreads in central and South American countries, and it is more commonly affected in children.
This disease can lead to impaired heart. Therefore, please be careful of this disease, for those of you who want to vacation to those countries.
Chagas Disease Facts
About 6 – 7 million people in the world are infected with Chagas disease
It is estimated that there are 6 – 7 million people around the world, infected by the Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite that is the cause of Chagas disease. The most elevated cases of Chagas disease are found in the Latin American continent, and not in the Caribbean islands.
In recent decades, however, the disease has also been found in the United States, Canada, and many European countries, as well as some western Pacific. Such distribution can occur due to the mobility of the population between Latin America and the rest of the world.
Chagas Disease Transmission
Chagas Disease transmitted through insects. Chagas disease that occurs in America is most often caused by insect vectors, namely triatomine bugs that carry the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite and cause disease.
In Latin America, T. Cruzi parasites are most often transmitted by contact with impurities or urine from infected triatomine insects. These insects usually live on walls or roofs of poorly constructed homes in rural areas or suburbs. They hid during the day, but became active at night and suck the blood of mammals, including the blood of humans.
Triatomine insects most often bite the face (therefore this disease is also called “kissing Bug“). In addition, insects can also defecate or urinate in the area near the bite. An insect-borne parasite, then enters the body when an unconsciously bitten human rubs insect dirt or urine into the mouth, eyes, or skin.
T. Cuzi can also be transmitted in the following ways:
- Consume food that has been contaminated by impurities or urine from triatomine bugs infected with T. Cruzi.
- Receiving blood transfusions from infected persons.
- Transmission from infected mothers to newborns during pregnancy or childbirth.
- Receiving organ transplants from infected persons.
- Laboratory accidents.
Chagas Disease Symptoms
After being bitten by insects until the symptoms of Chagas disease appears a long span of time, which is 3 days-4 months. Symptoms of Chagas disease also lasts long, it can be for several weeks to several months. Emerging symptoms include:
- Swelling of the bitten area
- Flu-like symptoms include fever, weakness, no appetite, muscle pain, headache.
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Swollen eyelids.
- Rash on skin.
- The emergence of swelling from inflammation of the body glands.
In some cases, Chagas disease can result in inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and inflammation of the heart membrane (pericarditis). Immediately meet the doctor when you arise symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pains.
Is Chagas Disease Curable?
T. Cruzi infection can be cured when treatment is done immediately after infection.
Chagas Disease Treatment
Chagas disease should be handled immediately in the right way. The main focus in dealing with this case is eradicating parasites and overcoming symptoms. What are the treatments that can be done to deal with Chagas disease?
One way to overcome Chagas disease is to take a certain type of medication, which is a type of medication that is useful to eradicate parasites. However, treatment for this disease should be carried out immediately after Chagas disease is detected.
Therefore, Chagas disease that has reached the chronic phase is not curable.
To eradicate parasites, Chagas disease can be treated with benzimidazoles and also nifurtimox. Both of these drugs are almost 100 percent effective to cure Chagas disease when administered immediately after infection at the beginning of the acute phase occurs, including in the case of congenital transmission.
However, the effectiveness of both drugs decreases when treatment is late or recently done in a long time after a person is infected.
In addition to administering the drug to eradicate parasitic causes of disease, additional treatments may be needed. Usually, the treatment depends on the symptoms or complications that arise. Chagas disease that causes heart complications, usually will be dealt with treatment, pacemaker, surgery, even a heart transplant.
Chagas disease prevention
Control vector is the most useful method to prevent Chagas disease
Until now there has been no vaccine for Chagas disease. Insect vector control is the most effective method of prevention in Latin America.
Blood screening is also needed to prevent infection through transfusions and organ transplants.
Here are some ways to prevent Chagas disease:
- Spray the house and surrounding area with insecticide.
- Improve the house and keep the house clean to prevent insect nesting.
- Put a mosquito net in bed.
- Maintain good hygiene when preparing, serving, eating, and storing food.