Epidemiology of congenital Chagas disease 6 years after implementation of a public health surveillance system, Catalonia, 2010 to 2015

Euro Surveill. 2019 Jun;24(26):1900011. doi: 10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2019.24.26.19-00011.


BackgroundChagas disease is endemic in Latin America and affects 8 million people worldwide. In 2010, Catalonia introduced systematic public health surveillance to detect and treat congenital Chagas disease.AimThe objective was to evaluate the health outcomes of the congenital Chagas disease screening programme during the first 6 years (2010-2015) after its introduction in Catalonia.MethodsIn a surveillance system, we screened pregnant women and newborns and other children of positive mothers, and treated Chagas-positive newborns and children. Diagnosis was confirmed for pregnant women and children with two positive serological tests and for newborns with microhaematocrit and/or PCR at birth or serology at age 9 months.ResultsFrom 2010 to 2015, the estimated screening coverage rate increased from 68.4% to 88.6%. In this period, 33,469 pregnant women were tested for Trypanosoma cruzi and 937 positive cases were diagnosed. The overall prevalence was 2.8 cases per 100 pregnancies per year (15.8 in Bolivian women). We followed 82.8% of newborns until serological testing at age 9-12 months and 28 were diagnosed with Chagas disease (congenital transmission rate: 4.17%). Of 518 siblings, 178 (34.3%) were tested and 14 (7.8%) were positive for T. cruzi. Having other children with Chagas disease and the heart clinical form of Chagas disease were maternal risk factors associated with congenital T. cruzi infection (p < 0.05).ConclusionThe increased screening coverage rate indicates consolidation of the programme in Catalonia. The rate of Chagas disease congenital transmission in Catalonia is in accordance with the range in non-endemic countries.

Keywords: Chagas disease; Trypanosoma cruzi; congenital; public health; screening; surveillance system; vertical transmission.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chagas Disease / diagnosis
  • Chagas Disease / epidemiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / diagnosis
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / parasitology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / diagnosis
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / parasitology
  • Public Health Surveillance / methods*
  • Serologic Tests / methods
  • Spain / epidemiology