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Chagas Disease in the 21st Century: A Public Health Success or an Emerging Threat?


Chagas Disease in the 21st Century: A Public Health Success or an Emerging Threat?

Kevin M Bonney. Parasite.


Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is a major public health burden in Latin America and a potentially serious emerging threat to a number of countries throughout the world. Although public health programs have significantly reduced the prevalence of Chagas disease in Latin America in recent decades, the number of infections in the United States and non-endemic countries in Europe and the Western Pacific Region continues to rise. Moreover, there is still no vaccine or highly effective cure available for the approximately 10 million people currently infected with T. cruzi, a third of which will develop potentially fatal cardiomyopathy and/or severe digestive tract disorders. As Chagas disease becomes an increasingly globalized public health issue in the twenty-first century, continued attentiveness from governmental and health organizations as well as improved diagnostic tools, expanded surveillance and increased research funding will be required to maintain existing public health successes and stymie the spread of the disease to new areas and populations.

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