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Chagas, the Tropical 'Kissing Bug' Disease: Should You Be Worried?

Ariana Eunjung Cha - The Independent
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November 12, 2014
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"Kissing bugs" suck the blood of their prey and pass on a potentially lethal parasite: Chagas disease, now very common in Latin America. They're also found in Texas, where a scientist is trying to track the pest and assess its threat to humans. (AFP)

Researchers at the annual gathering of tropical medicine experts have warned of a deadly disease from abroad that is threatening world health. They weren't talking about ebola, but chagas, the "kissing bug" disease.

Called a silent killer because it's often hard to diagnose in the early stages, chagas is a parasitic infection that can lead to serious cardiac and intestinal complications and even death. It typically spreads through blood-sucking "kissing" bugs that bite on people's faces during the night and is estimated to affect seven to eight million people worldwide. The disease can also be spread from blood transfusions, organ transplants and congenital transfer from mother to child, according to the CDC. Until recently it was considered a problem only in Mexico, Central America and South America. Over the past few years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has seen cases across half the United States, but in most cases the victims were believed to have been infected abroad.

Now a team of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston is challenging that assumption.

Read the rest at The Independent

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