World Day for Chagas, the silent disease
- The objective on World Day 2023 is to integrate care for Chagas disease into the primary health network.
- With early detection, the current 10,000 deaths per year could be drastically reduced.
- Probitas is commited to fight Chagas disease in Paraguay and Bolivia
The objective is to give Chagas disease greater visibility and raise the level of awareness among population, highlight the importance of improving early detection, expand diagnostic coverage, and provide equitable access to clinical care for Chagas disease.
This Neglected Tropical Desease (NTD) is prevalent among the most depressed populations in 21 countries in South and Central America, but it is increasingly being detected in areas of other continents, with high access barriers to adequate and efficient medical care.
It is popularly called the "silent and silenced disease", since most of the infected people are asymptomatic or with very mild symptoms. Low detection rates -below 10%- greatly complicate its treatment. Globally, 7 million people are affected (30% of whom develop serious complications if they are not diagnosed and treated on time), with a balance of 10,000 deaths per year. It is estimated that more than 10,000 babies are born each year with this infection.
Chagas, inflammatory and infectious disease caused by bedbugs
Chagas disease is a potentially fatal disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite is transmitted to humans by contact with the feces or urine of triatomines (commonly known as "bedbugs"). These insects often live in cracks in the walls or ceilings of poorly built houses located in rural or suburban areas. The animals become active at night, bite exposed areas of the skin, and then defecate near the bite. The contagion occurs through the wound, when the person scratches, or also through the eyes or mouth. Another possibility of contracting Chagas disease is through the consumption of food contaminated with the waste of infected bed bugs. Finally, it can also be transmitted through blood transfusions or by congenital transmission (from mother to child) during pregnancy or childbirth.
Chagas, a curable disease if detected early
Trypanosoma cruzi infection is curable if treatment is started soon after infection (in its acute phase, which manifests fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, among other symptoms). For this reason, it is so important to arrive on time so that this treatable disease does not end up becoming a chronic condition (it can manifest between 10 and 20 years after the initial infection), leading to serious heart and digestive problems and even causing the death of the patient.
Chagas prevention strategies
Raising awareness about this Neglected Tropical Desease (NTD) is essential to improve rates of treatment and early cure, as well as the interruption of its transmission.
Key strategies to prevent Chagas disease include: vector control (in Latin America); analysis of blood, blood products and organs before transfusions and transplants; and testing and treatment of girls, women of reproductive age, newborns, and siblings of infected mothers without prior antiparasitic treatment.
The Probitas Foundation, committed to local projects to control Chagas
The Probitas Foundation has been working for years in the fight to control Chagas disease through collaboration with multiple entities that develop local projects. We focus on one of the main problems of the disease: its diagnosis. Most infected people are unaware that they are infected. For this reason, we have developed two programs to strengthen public health laboratories for the general diagnosis of pathologies in the area, with special emphasis on Chagas disease. To this end, diagnostic equipment has been improved, local health personnel have been trained, and awareness campaigns have been carried out at the community and school level. From the Probitas Foundation we collaborate with the Global Health Institute and the Nor Sud Association in two projects to fight Chagas disease in Paraguay and Bolivia, respectively.
The Probitas Foundation is part of the Chagas Coalition, which aims to promote access to diagnosis and treatment for patients with the disease and accelerate efforts to stimulate innovation in new tools to fight Chagas disease.