Parasitic Disease Found in Blood near Border; CDC Also Notes Measles Cases in 3 China Travelers
Byline: Joyce Howard Price, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
A large study of blood donations collected from two U.S. border states found that nearly one in 5,000 was positive for Chagas' disease, a potentially fatal parasitic disorder endemic in Latin America, according to a federal report.
In a separate study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disclosed that adults in three states Missouri, California and Washington contracted measles last summer after traveling to China to adopt children.
Both studies, published in the current issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, show how infectious diseases are entering the United States through immigration and foreign travel.
Chagas' disease affects an estimated 11 million people throughout Latin America, and nearly a third suffer chronic cardiac or gastrointestinal illnesses. Cardiac conditions include a diseased heart, irregular heartbeat and sudden death.
Dr. Louis V. Kirchhoff, a Chagas' disease specialist at the University of Iowa's medical school, has estimated that as many as 10 percent of the Mexicans who migrate to the United States are infected.
The disease is caused by the blood-borne parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. In endemic areas, it is transmitted primarily by triatomine insects commonly known as "kissing bugs."
Infection also may occur via blood transfusion, congenital transmission, organ transplantation, laboratory incident and ingestion of triatomine-tainted food or drink.
The American Red Cross compiled data from the blood-donation screening for Chagas' disease after analysis of 148,969 blood samples collected from August to last month from blood centers in Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif. …