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

Ebola expert calls for European anti-virus 'corps'

1 hour ago

Europe will be "vulnerable" if it does not regard viruses as a "national security issue" like the United States, the microbiologist who discovered Ebola said in an interview published Friday.

In Liberia, Ebola steals Christmas

1 hour ago

The Ebola epidemic has cast a dark shadow over Christmas this year in Liberia, where small businesses are especially feeling the pinch.

Firm recalls caramel apples amid listeria fears

Dec 25, 2014

A Missouri firm is recalling its Happy Apple brand caramel apples because of the potential that they could be contaminated with listeria. The recall comes after at least three deaths and at least 29 illnesses in 10 states ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.