Kissing bugs: Predatory bugs are spreading the dangerous Chagas disease more and more

Kissing bugs: Predatory bugs are spreading the dangerous Chagas disease more and more


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Increased spread of Chagas disease in the United States
In the United States, with the proliferation of predatory bugs, a significant increase in infections from Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) can be observed. The tropical disease, which was originally widespread primarily in Central and South America, is often symptom-free over a long period of time, but can lead to heart failure over time, warn scientists from the Baylor College of Medicine. The sufferers often develop cardiomyopathy, with one in six people dying from this heart failure within five years, the researchers write.

In current studies, the experts at the Baylor Medical University have uncovered that Texas transmissions of Chagas disease by blood-sucking predatory bugs are already increasing. According to the experts, a further increase in the number of infections can be expected with the spread of the parasites. In Central and South America, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that "an estimated eight million people are infected with Chargas," and more than 300,000 people in the United States are living with a Chargas infection. However, the latter have mainly become infected in the endemic countries, according to the CDC. However, this may change in the future, because an increased proportion of local infections can already be assumed in Texas.

Chagas disease often without symptoms for a long time
Chagas disease is transmitted by predatory bugs, which pass on the unicellular organism Trypanosoma cruzi if they bite. The bugs preferably sting in the area of ​​the mouth during sleep, which has also given them the name "kissing bug" in the USA. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the infections occur in two phases, although in the first phase (up to two months) many pathogens circulate in the blood of those affected, but only 50 percent of those affected show symptoms. These can be skin changes, swelling of the eyelids, fever, headache, enlarged lymph nodes, pallor, muscle pain, difficulty breathing, swelling and abdominal and chest pain, reports the WHO. After around two months, the disease may go into a chronic stage and the parasites mainly affect muscles in the heart and stomach. "Up to 30 percent of patients suffer from heart diseases and up to ten percent from diseases of the digestive tract (typically in the esophagus or the middle section of the colon)," said the WHO. In later years, the infection could lead to sudden death from heart failure.

Spread of Chagas disease in the southern United States
The scientists around Dr. In their current research, Kristy Murray and Melissa Nolan Garcia from the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor Medical University have "discovered an unprecedented level of transmission in the state of Texas." Infectious agents and increased transmission to humans are therefore extremely likely. However, the spread of Chagas disease in the Texas has not been recorded for a long time, making it difficult to assess its development. In the case of blood donations, for example, screening tests are mandatory by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because the Chagas pathogens can be transmitted via blood transfusions. However, the conclusions from this also only allow limited conclusions to be drawn about the spread within the USA. According to the figures from the US disease control agency, one of 27,500 blood donors is tested positive for Chagas, reports the news channel "n-tv". However, the number is much higher in Texas. According to the latest study by the Baylor Medical University, one of 6,500 blood donors is infected with the tropical disease. (fp)

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