Prevalence of Chagas disease in Brazil: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Acta Trop. 2014 Feb:130:167-74. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2013.10.002. Epub 2013 Oct 15.


Chagas disease is a major public health problem in Brazil and Latin America. During the last years, it has become an emerging problem in North America and Europe due to increasing international migration. Here we describe the prevalence of Chagas disease in Brazil through a systematic review. We searched national and international electronic databases, grey literature and reference lists of selected articles for population-based studies on Chagas disease prevalence in Brazil, performed from 1980 until September 2012. Forty-two articles with relevant prevalence data were identified from a total of 4985 references. Prevalence ranged from 0% to 25.1%. Most surveys were performed in the Northeast region, especially in the state of Piauí. We observed a high degree of heterogeneity in most pooled estimates (I(2)>75%; p<0.001). The pooled estimate of Chagas disease prevalence across studies for the entire period was 4.2% (95% CI: 3.1-5.7), ranging from 4.4% (95% CI: 2.3-8.3) in the 1980s to 2.4% (95% CI: 1.5-3.8) after 2000. Females (4.2%; 95% CI: 2.6-6.8), >60 year-olds (17.7%; 95% CI: 11.4-26.5), Northeast (5.0%; 95% CI: 3.1-8.1) and Southeast (5.0%; CI: 2.4-9.9) regions and mixed (urban/rural) areas (6.4%; 95% CI: 4.2-9.4) had the highest pooled prevalence. About 4.6 million (95% CI: 2.9-7.2 million) of people are estimated to be infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. The small number of studies and small-scale samples of the general population in some areas limit interpretation, and findings of this review do not necessarily reflect the situation of the entire country. Systematic population-based studies at regional and national level are recommended to provide more accurate estimates and better define the epidemiology and risk areas of Chagas disease in Brazil.

Keywords: Brazil; Chagas disease; Epidemiology; Prevalence; Systematic review; Trypanosoma cruzi.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Chagas Disease / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / isolation & purification