World Chagas Disease Day 2023:
The World Health Organisation (WHO) observes World Chagas Disease Day every April 14th to raise awareness about the little-known disease that affects millions of people, especially in Latin America.
- The 72nd World Health Assembly dedicated this day to the disease in 2019.
- This year’s theme is “time to integrate Chagas disease into primary health care”.
- Chagas disease, also known as “silent or silenced disease”, is a communicable parasitic disease that infects 6-7 million people and claims around 12,000 lives every year worldwide, according to WHO.
- The disease is named after physician Carlos Chagas who first detected it in a Brazilian child in 1909.
- It is caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, transmitted by a family of bugs called ‘triatomines’ or ‘kissing bugs’ that infect healthy individuals through bites or defecation.
- It can also be contracted through congenital transmission, blood transfusions, organ transplantation, consumption of uncooked food contaminated with fecal matter of infected bugs, or accidental laboratory exposure.
- It cannot propagate by casual contact with infected humans or animals.
- The disease manifests as fever, headaches, rashes, inflammatory nodules, nausea or diarrhea, and muscle or abdominal pain. 4
- 70-80% of patients show no symptoms throughout their lives, making early detection challenging.
- 20-30% of infections evolve into the chronic stage, causing damage to the heart, digestive system, or nervous system.