World Chagas Disease Day

World Chagas Disease Day – Everything you need to know about Chagas Disease

World Chagas day is celebrated on the 14th of April. It was celebrated for the first time in 2020. It is also referred to as a “silent and at times silenced disease”. This disease targets poor people mainly who have limited and at times no access to health care and a group of people without a political voice.

The global community started celebrating world Chagas day in 2020. It is observed on 14th April 2022. It grows and works slowly and gradually. Moreover, it is also asymptomatic many times.

Chagas now has become a global health problem and experts have started working on it to educate their people about the disease its cause and which steps can be taken to prevent the disease. It is also important to note that a Brazilian girl named Berenice Soares de Moura was the first patient diagnosed with the Chagas in 1909. Hence, the World Health Organization (WHO) also worked on the awareness to educate the people to get an early diagnosis so that the right treatment can be offered. 

Chagas Disease—Overview 

Chagas disease is an infectious and inflammatory disease that is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite comes from animals and is found in the feces of triatomine bugs. These bugs leave parasites that transmit the infection to humans, leading to Chagas disease. All these bugs feed on the blood of animals and humans during the night and they defecate later.

This disease is mainly common in South America, Central America, and Mexico. Moreover, rare cases of the Chagas disease are also witnessed in the southern United States.

This disease is also called American trypanosomiasis. This disease can infect anyone. The Chagas disease needs to be treated on an urgent basis or else if left untreated, it can severely damage the heart and other organs causing digestive issues as well.

The initial process of treatment of Chagas includes the focus on the killing parasite. It is also important to note it’s not possible to kill the parasite in the patients who have chronic Chagas disease. However, treatment still can be managed with signs and symptoms. Certain steps can also be taken to prevent and spread infection.

Symptoms of the Chagas

Chagas disease starts with sudden and brief acute illness. It could also turn into a long-lasting chronic condition. The symptoms could range from mild to severe. It is also worth mentioning that many times it goes asymptomatic until it reaches its chronic stage.

Acute phase

Chagas disease has its acute phase which may last for weeks or months depending on certain things. This phase is usually symptom-free. Signs and symptoms are mild and these may include

  • Swelling at the site of infection
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Body aches
  • Eyelid swelling
  • Headache
  • Appetite loss
  • Nausea diarrhea and vomiting
  • Swelling of glands
  • Enlarged liver or spleen

All the symptoms and signs of Chagas disease usually go away on their own during an acute phase. However, there are cases reported that show if the infection is left untreated for long, it may lead to a chronic phase.

Chronic phase

The chronic phase takes time to spread and turn into chronic. Signs and symptoms of the chronic phase take around 10 to 20 years to post initial infection. Besides that, interestingly, they never occur as well. The signs and symptoms of chronic disease could or could not include

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Sudden cardiac arrest
  • Finding it hard to swallow due to an enlarged esophagus
  • Pain in the stomach and constipation is also observed due to an enlarged colon

Consulting the Doctor 

Consulting a doctor is extremely important. Moreover, it also depends on the area where the patient is living. There are areas in the United States where the disease is widely spread and have signs and symptoms. Once there are common symptoms that appear such as swelling on the infection site, fever, body aches rash, or nausea, the patient should consult a doctor immediately.

Causes

A parasite named Trypanosoma cruzi is spread from an insect known as the triatomine bug also called a “kissing bug”. These infections happen when parasites swallow blood from any such animal which has the infection of the parasite.

Triatomine bugs come from the mud, and adobe huts and that’s in Mexico, South, and Central America. These bugs stay in crevices in the walls and roofs during the day and start hunting during the night. They often feed on sleeping humans.

Infected bugs leave after feeding and they leave parasites on the skin. These parasites can make their way into the human body through the eyes, mouth, through a cut or scratch, and wound from a bug’s bite.

The rubbing and scratching of the bite also enable parasites to enter the body. Once they enter through, they start spreading and multiplying.

Moreover, people can also get the infection through

  • Consuming raw food contaminated with feces from bugs and infection with a parasite
  • A person who has an infection from a parasite giving birth
  • Getting a blood transfusion or organ transplant from a person who has an infection of a parasite
  • Coming in contraction with the parasite while working in a lab or so.
  • Spending time in a forest that has wild animals with infections.

Risk factors

A number of factors can happen to cause the Chagas disease

  • Habitats of poor rural areas of Central America, Mexico, or South America
  • Having a residence with triatomine bugs
  • Having a blood transfusion or organ transplant from someone who is carrying the infection already.

Complications

It is important to get the treatment of Chagas disease after a particular time. The day is celebrated to educate and aware people of the disease and to avoid the risks and causes. If it is left untreated, it can cause serious damage. 

Heart failure

Heart failure occurs in the case of the long-running and chronic phase of Chagas. During this suffering, the heart becomes weak and stiff that it fails to pump the blood that may meet the body’s needs.

Esophagus getting enlarged

An abnormal widening or dilation causes enlargement of the esophagus. This also causes problems in swallowing and digestion.

Enlargement of the colon

Megacolon occurs as a result of abnormal dilation. It causes stomach pain and severe constipation.

Prevention

A number of people who reside in high-risk areas where there are mild to high chances of Chagas spreading. They can take a few steps to prevent themselves from the Chagas disease.

Avoid sleeping in mud, thatch, or adobe house

They should avoid sleeping in such surroundings, as such residences harbor triatomine bugs.

Use insecticide-soaked netting on the bed

While sleeping in an open area or setting, they should cover their bed with a net.

Use insect repellent

They should use insect repellent on their exposed skin to avoid the risk of getting an infection. They should also use insecticides in order to remove insects from the residence.

Wrapping up 

Chagas is a disease that happens as a result of the infection caused by a parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. Most of these parasites are common in Central & South America and Mexico. This disease comes asymptomatic initially. However, if left untreated for long may cause serious damage such as heart failure or an enlarged esophagus. World Chagas day was celebrated on 14th April 2020 for the first time.

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