Anthropozoonosis caused by the flagellate protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.
Infects mammals and humans through blood-sucking triatomine bugs, blood transfusions, organ transplantation, consumption of contaminated food or liquids, vertical transmission, and laboratory accidents.
The disease is distributed on the American continent, from the southern US (very rare) to southern Argentina; human migration is likely reason for diagnosis in nonendemic areas.
Acute-phase disease is often asymptomatic. Chronic-phase disease has cardiac, gastrointestinal, neural, and indeterminate forms. Reactivation (in the forms of myocarditis or severe meningoencephalitis) occurs in immunosuppressed patients.
Treatment objectives include parasite elimination and careful management of clinical syndromes.
Chagas disease represents the leading cause of cardiac lesions in young, economically productive adults in endemic Latin American countries (in terms of disability-adjusted life years lost).
Triatoma sanguisuga: vector species with wide distribution in the US
Cleber Galvao, PhD, Laboratório Nacional e Internacional de Referência em Taxonomia de Triatomíneos, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; used with permission