Chagas disease

21:54 - 4 May , 2021

Disease

What is Chagas disease?

It is an inflammatory parasitic infection caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite present in the excrement of the triatomine or kissing bug, affecting anyone and causing cardiac and digestive complications that can be extremely serious. The way this parasite can enter the body is through the insect bite, through the mouth and eyes, or a wound or scrape. You can also become infected by eating raw food exposed to contaminated insect feces, receiving a blood transfusion, or organ transplant from an infected person, or having contact with infected wild animals. Once the parasites enter the body, they multiply and spread rapidly. Triatomines usually hide during the day in the walls, cracks, and ceilings of rustic houses, coming out at night to feed on the blood of animals and humans while they sleep. They generally inhabit some Central American regions, including Mexico and South America.

Symptoms

The symptoms can appear suddenly for a short period or evolve into a chronic condition, in which it is no longer possible to get rid of the parasite, but only to control it. The condition’s magnitude varies depending on the case and can be mild or severe. During the acute stage, which can last weeks or months, the characteristic signs of the disease include:
  • Headache.
  • General body pain.
  • Tiredness.
  • Rashes.
  • High fever.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Enlarged liver or spleen.
  • Swelling in the area where the infection occurred.
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomit.
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Lack of appetite.
These symptoms usually disappear by themselves, but if the disease is not treated, it can evolve into a chronic phase, whose symptoms can appear 15 or 20 years after the first manifestation, causing complications, such as:
  • Dysphagia, caused by an enlargement of the esophagus.
  • Inflammation of the colon that causes stomach pain, abdominal swelling, and constipation.
  • Heart failure.
  • Irregular heartbeats.
  • Heart attack.

Diagnosis and treatment

In addition to analyzing your symptoms and clinical history, the doctor will perform a physical examination and request a blood test to confirm the diagnosis. If you have Chagas disease, your doctor will probably order additional diagnostic tests such as an echocardiogram, electrocardiogram, endoscopy, chest, and abdominal X-rays, which help determine the stage of the infection and if you have heart and/or digestive damage. Pharmacological treatment consists of eradicating the parasite and controlling specific symptoms by taking various medications. But if the disease has progressed to the chronic phase, the treatment will consist of controlling the symptoms and attending to the cardiac or digestive complications presented, either with drugs or with surgery. How to prevent it: If you live or travel to areas with a high incidence of this disease, you must follow these recommendations:
  • Try not to sleep outdoors or in rustic houses.
  • Put up mosquito nets that cover the bed and spray insecticide on them.
  • Use insecticides to avoid the presence of insects carrying the parasite.
  • Apply insect repellent to your skin.
At ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.

Fuentes:

  • mayoclinic.org
  • medlineplus.gov
  • cdc.gov
  • inps.mx
  • who.int
  • paho.gov
  • infochagas.org
  • medigraphic.com
  • Velasco-Castrejón Ó, Rivas-Sánchez B. Apuntes para la historia de la enfermedad de Chagas en México. Bol Med Hosp Infant Mex. 2008;65(1):57-79.
  • Suecun CSH, Monroy DAL, Sandoval CC, et al. Fiabilidad y validación del instrumento de conocimientos, actitudes y prácticas en la enfermedad de Chagas. Rev Cubana Med Trop. 2020;72(2):1-17.
  • Garg NJ. Current global situation of chagas disease. Rev Biomed. 2021;32(2):66-68.
  • Rubio-Ortiz M, Hernández-López LA, Pérez-Galicia A, et al. Diagnóstico de la infección con Trypanosoma cruzi: Avances y retos. Rev Med UV. 2020;20(1):7-27.

						
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