Chagas, known as the “kissing” bug disease, is posing an emerging threat in many regions of the U.S., according to a new report.
Although it the parasitic disease has primarily affected Latin America — where up to 12 million people are stricken — Forbes
reports a growing number of Americans are coming down with the condition.
The infection is typically transmitted by the Triatomine bug, known as the “kissing” bug, through bites — often near the eyes or mouth. But it can also be spread through contaminated food or drink.
Most people in the U.S. with Chagas disease probably became infected as children, living in Latin America. Although it has few symptoms early on, it can cause sudden death from heart disease decades after infection. In fact, it is a major cause of congestive heart failure and cardiac deaths, with an estimated 11,000 people dying annually, according to the WHO.
An estimated 300,167 Americans are infected, with the highest infections in Los Angeles, the Washington metropolitan area, and the Texas border, where there are large immigrant communities from endemic areas.
The two drugs available to treat Chagas, benznidazole and nifurtimox, are not yet FDA approved and are only available investigational protocols, Forbes reports.
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