Introduction: My wife and I are in the process of planning our next vacation. We agreed to travel back to Belize, since we’ve been there before and really enjoyed it. After doing some research on where we were going to stay, I came across a website that contained information about a common disease that has been getting much more attention lately. It is known as Chagas Disease and it is a silent killer. I love Belize… but not to death.
I. What is Chagas Disease?
A. Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, and is transmitted to humans by an insect vector, the blood-sucking bugs of the subfamily Triatominae, also known as the Kissing bug.
1. An infected triatomine insect vector (or "kissing" bug) takes a blood meal and releases trypomastigotes in its feces near the site of the bite wound.
2. Scratching the site of the bite causes the trypomastigotes to enter the host through the wound.
3. Once inside the host, the trypomastigotes invade cells, where they differentiate into intracellular amastigotes, and are then releases into the blood stream.
B. Chagas disease occurs in three phases: acute, intermediate, and chronic.
1. Symptoms during the acute phase of Chagas disease, which lasts for weeks or months, include swelling at the infection site, fever, swollen glands, and enlargement of the liver or spleen.
2. During the Intermediate stage, there are no symptoms.
3. Signs and symptoms of the chronic phase of Chagas disease may occur 10 to 20 years after initial infection include irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure, and udden cardiac arrest.
4. See your doctor if you live in or have traveled to an area at risk of Chagas disease and you have signs and symptoms of the condition, such as swelling at the infection site, fever, fatigue, body aches, rash and nausea.
C. Chagas disease is locally transmitted in North, Central, and South America.... [continues]
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