Chagas disease

Postgrad Med J. 2006 Dec;82(974):788-98. doi: 10.1136/pgmj.2006.047357.


Chagas disease is the clinical condition triggered by infection with the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi. The infection is transmitted by triatomine insects while blood feeding on a human host. Field studies predict that one third of an estimated 18 million T cruzi-infected humans in Latin America will die of Chagas disease. Acute infections are usually asymptomatic, but the ensuing chronic T cruzi infections have been associated with high ratios of morbidity and mortality: Chagas heart disease leads to unexpected death in 37.5% of patients, 58% develop heart failure and die and megacolon or megaoesophagus has been associated with death in 4.5%. The pathogenesis of Chagas disease appears to be related to a parasite-induced mutation of the vertebrate genome. Currently, treatment is unsatisfactory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Animals
  • Chagas Disease* / etiology
  • Chagas Disease* / prevention & control
  • Chagas Disease* / transmission
  • Chronic Disease
  • DNA, Kinetoplast / genetics
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology
  • Treatment Failure
  • Triatoma / parasitology
  • Trypanocidal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Trypanosoma cruzi* / genetics
  • Trypanosoma cruzi* / pathogenicity


  • DNA, Kinetoplast
  • Trypanocidal Agents