Prevalence of Chagas disease in Latin-American migrants living in Europe: a systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2015 Feb 13;9(2):e0003540. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003540. eCollection 2015 Feb.


Background: Few studies have assessed the burden of Chagas disease in non-endemic countries and most of them are based on prevalence estimates from Latin American (LA) countries that likely differ from the prevalence in migrants living in Europe. The aim of this study was to systematically review the existing data informing current understanding of the prevalence of Chagas disease in LA migrants living in European countries.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting prevalence of Chagas disease in European countries belonging to the European Union (EU) before 2004 in accordance with the MOOSE guidelines and based on the database sources MEDLINE and Global Health. No restrictions were placed on study date, study design or language of publication. The pooled prevalence was estimated using random effect models based on DerSimonian & Laird method.

Results: We identified 18 studies conducted in five European countries. The random effect pooled prevalence was 4.2% (95%CI:2.2-6.7%); and the heterogeneity of Chagas disease prevalence among studies was high (I2 = 97%,p<0.001). Migrants from Bolivia had the highest prevalence of Chagas disease (18.1%, 95%CI:13.9-22.7%).

Conclusions: Prevalence of Chagas in LA migrants living in Europe is high, particularly in migrants from Bolivia and Paraguay. Data are highly heterogeneous dependent upon country of origin and within studies of migrants from the same country of origin. Country-specific prevalence differs from the estimates available from LA countries. Our meta-analysis provides prevalence estimates of Chagas disease that should be used to estimate the burden of disease in European countries.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chagas Disease / epidemiology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Transients and Migrants*
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / isolation & purification*

Grants and funding

This work has been supported by the EC within the 7th Framework Program under grant agreement no. FP7?GA-261495. The CRESIB Research group receives funds from AGAUR, (project 2014SGR26) and also from the project RICET (RD12/0018/0010) within the Spanish National plan of R+D+I and co-funded by ISCIII-Subdireccion General de Evaluacion and the Fondo Europeo de Desarrollo Regional (FEDER). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.