Researchers study Chagas disease—aim to prevent transmission

Preventing transmission of Chagas disease
Credit: Thinkstock

EU funding has supported a major initiative designed to promote research collaboration to support control programmes for Chagas disease in central and southern America.

Chagas disease is caused by a protozoan and is contracted mainly in central and southern America. Spread primarily by blood-sucking insect vectors, most commonly species of the Triatoma and Rhodnius genera, the disease can produce life-threatening symptoms in around a third of chronically infected individuals.

One feature of the life-cycle of the insect vector is that deforestation encourages the search for new food sources, in this case , and a cycle may develop. The 'American trypanosomiasis update' (ATU) project therefore focused on control activities against the triatomine bug vector.

ATU researchers aimed to investigate the involved in adaptation from a sylvatic (forest) to a domestic environment and to set up workshops to disseminate the collated information. Three regional initiatives were set up in southern cone countries, the Andean Pact and central America.

In field studies, samples of insects were collected and analysed before comparing with data from before the start of the bug control campaign. The species under study depended on the region as, for example, in the southern cone countries. In this region, T. infestans has been eliminated so the study also focused on other vector species. In the Andean countries, both domestic and sylvatic species came under investigation.

ATU collected new information on the biology and potential vectors for Chagas disease as well as new tools for the control and surveillance of the vector bug. Exchange of information among experts on the disease, professionals involved in control programmes, and scientists proved very fruitful. Abstracts from contributions at the workshops can be viewed online and in a publication distributed to all control programmes, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and universities involved in Chagas disease research.

The ATU has promoted a major initiative for information exchange and the standardisation of criteria for control interventions to eliminate the of Chagas disease. As Chagas disease affects as many as 8 to 10 million people in Latin American countries, this is a very important issue for healthcare authorities.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FDA approves new test for Chagas disease

Nov 26, 2011

The Food and Drug Administration has approved Abbott Laboratories' ESA test for Chagas disease, which could be a useful tool in protecting the nation's blood supply from contamination.

Dogs may help collar Chagas disease

Jul 12, 2010

Chagas disease, for example, is caused by a parasite that roams with only limited control among the rural poor in Latin America. The main vector for the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the triatomine insect, or "kissing bug," ...

Recommended for you

NY and NJ say they will require Ebola quarantines

1 hour ago

The governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other arriving travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.

WHO: Mali case may have infected many people

5 hours ago

The World Health Organization says a toddler who brought Ebola to Mali was bleeding from her nose during her journey on public transport and may have infected many people.

Two US nurses are declared cured of Ebola

6 hours ago

Two American nurses were declared cured of Ebola on Friday, and one was healthy enough to leave the hospital and meet President Barack Obama for a hug.

User comments