Researchers develop new strategy to fight against Chagas disease

A newly appeared study can ease the life of many countries in the process of targeting and treating Chagas disease.

Earlier the attempts to kill the virus were reduced to traditional spraying campaigns, but now it’s much easier. U.S. researchers showed the proportion of data on the number of insects found in homes and clusters of at-risk children who should be tested for Chagas disease, thus making the research and collection of information easier and won’t require testing of entire communities.

Chagas' disease (also called American trypanosomiasis) is a human tropical parasitic disease which occurs in the Americas, particularly in South America . Its pathogenic agent is a flagellate protozoan named Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted to humans and other mammals mostly by blood-sucking assassin bugs. Those insects are known by numerous common names varying by country, including benchuca, vinchuca, kissing bug, chipo, chupança, and barbeiro. The most common insect species belong to the genera Triatoma, Rhodnius, and Panstrongylus. However, other methods of transmission are possible, such as ingestion of food contaminated with parasites, blood transfusion and fetal transmission.

The symptoms of Chagas' disease vary over the course of the infection. In the early, acute stage symptoms are mild and are usually no more than local swelling at the site of infection. As the disease progresses, over as much as twenty years, the serious chronic symptoms appear, such as heart disease and malformation of the intestines. If untreated, the chronic disease is often fatal. Current drug treatments for this disease are generally unsatisfactory, with the available drugs being highly toxic and often ineffective, particularly in the chronic stage of the disease.

To prove the efficiency of the new study, researchers tested 433 children in a poor neighbourhood in the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa, starting with homes where exterminators had reported finding the most bugs. On finding an infected child, the researchers screened everybody living within a 20-metre (65.5 ft) range and found that those with the disease all lived in tight clusters, according to the study published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Though the technology would not identify every case, the researchers essentially detected 83 percent of the infections while only needing to test about a quarter of the overall population.

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Author`s name Editorial Team