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--<-- at (a rose) andreas.rose at biologie.uni-regensburg.de
Sun Dec 3 12:29:31 EST 1995

Glen Zimmermann <gpz at u.washington.edu> wrote:
>Hello all,
>I was wondering if anyone could 
>tell me about the chargas parasite from 
>Belize, the symptoms a human would 
>experience who had this parasite, and 
>the cure.


I guess you mean the parasite that causes Chagas' disease.

It is called 'Trypanosoma cruzi' and is trasmitted by 
bloodsucking bugs (Hemiptera) from the Subfamily Triatominae 
(Family Reduviidae. 'Trypanosoma cruzi' is related to the 
parasite that causes the sleeping sickness in Africa.

It is a disese not only in Belize, but in most of Latin America.

T. cruzi is transmitted when the bug defecates during or shortly 
after the blood meal. The feces is rubbed  into wounds, or the 
eyes or the mouth, and this causes the infection.

The parasite may alo be transmitted with blood, but it is 
possible to desinfect blood donations and kill it.

The disease has four stages:

The *primary lesion*, that is a local swelling on the place of 
the infection.

The *acaute stage*, where the parites spead into the body and 
infect cells of the liver, spleen, glia-, sceletal-, and heart- 
muscle cells. In about 50% of the cases (especially in children), 
the patient will develop anemia, fever (occasionaly high), 
headache. In chilren, the parasites will often attack the heart 
muscles, which will kill the child in 5-10%.. After about three 
month, the acute phase ends, and the

*chronical and asymptomatic stage* begins. The patient feels 
fine. The ECG may look abnormal. This stage may last for decades.

When and if the patient slips into the *symptomatic stage*, it 
will eventually be fatal. Most often the heart will become weak, 
the patient will die of something like a heart attack. The 
esophagus or the colon may deteriorate so that swollowing or 
defecation will become impossible. Other organs can also develop 
problems, as well as nervous tissues. I do not know whether every 
patient develops the symptomatic stage. I have read of cases 
where Chagas' patients grew very old.

Specific therapy is available for the early stages (up to the 
chronic stage) and consists of chemotherapeutica. The eralier 
they are applied, the better are the chances to be healed. 
Existing destructions of organs that were caused by the parasite 
will be mostly irreversible. 

The disease is quite a problem in Latin Amereica. From my 
sources, 45.000 people per year die of Chagas'. 16-18 Mio. people 
are supposed to be infected. 90 Mio. are in danger to be infected 
sooner or later. The best chances to battle the disese so far is 
to control the vector bugs.

All of the above information is given accoriging to my best 
knowledge. However, I don't study the disease itself, just the 
behavior and ecology of a bug that transmits it. (But part of my 
motivation for this is the control of the disease.)

Best wishes,


andreas.rose at biologie.uni-regensburg.de

(answer posted as well as sent as a PM)


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