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Chagas's disease

B.A. SCHMITZ BMB8BAS at leeds.ac.uk
Fri Nov 13 08:02:54 EST 1998

Hope this helps. Not v. detailed, but info seems very scarce. Please do
not take this as the final word; its just what I am able to remember.

	Chagas disease results from infection with the protozoan Trypanasoma
cruzi, which is carried by blood-sucking
insect vectors (such as Triatoma infestans) between vertebrate hosts.
Acute Chagas disease uncommonly results in death due
to myocardial infestation and toxic injury leading to cardiac failure. 

	Chronic Chagas disease affects the heart and/or the oesophagus and/or
the colon (the latter two typically occur in Brazilian
Chagas disease), years or decades after the initial infection. A
lymphocytic inflammatory response in the oesophagus is
associated with reduction in the number of neurones in the myenteric
plexus. This can result in mega-oesophagus, with
dysphagia and severe reflux. The oesophageal lesion is sometimes
referred to as "secondary achalasia". The diagnosis is made
by detection of antibodies to T. cruzi. 

	The infection is seen only in the Americas, particularly poor regions
of Central and South America, where the insect vectors can
infest primitive wood, adobe and stone houses. The incidence of the
infection correlates with the presence of domestic dogs
and cats. Other animals such as armadillos, rats, opossums and racoons
have been implicated as intermediate hosts, bringing
the infections into human dwellings. The limited geographical range of
the infection is probably more closely related to the insect
vector and poor housing than the presence of a particular intermediate

B.A. Schmitz

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