Chagas Disease or American Trypanosomiasis(*)

Article excerpt

1. Brief description of the condition/disease

Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is caused by the parasitic protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi and is transmitted primarily by triatomine insects; it can also be transmitted by blood transfusion. Neither an effective vaccine nor therapy is available. In approximately 30% of cases, chronic, often severe and life-threatening cardiac or digestive tract disease occurs 20-30 years after initial infection.

2. Current global burden and rating within the overall burden of disease

The disease is believed to affect 16-18 million people, primarily in Central and South America; an estimated 100 million people are at risk, accounting for approximately 25% of the entire population of this region. Chagas disease accounts for an estimated 45000 deaths each year and is ranked third behind malaria and schistosomiasis by WHO in terms of global burden as a tropical disease.

3. Feasibility (biological) of elimination/eradication

WHO has targeted elimination of domestic transmission of Chagas disease. Because it exists as a zoonosis, complete eradication is not feasible; however, control of human transmission is considered achievable by eliminating domestic insect vector populations.

4. Estimated costs and benefits of elimination/eradication

Early estimates suggested that effective control could result in medical and economic benefits exceeding US$ 53 million per year, in the Southern Cone conutries alone, compared with a estimated total cost of US$ 190-350 million for the 10-year programme. More recent (1997) estimates suggest that the overall benefits of disease elimination could exceed US$ 3500 million per year. …


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