New study highlights Chagas disease as a growing health and socio-economic challenge

February 7, 2013, Sabin Vaccine Institute

Today, The Lancet Infectious Diseases published a new report that examines the global economic burden of Chagas disease. In the first study of its kind, researchers measured the health and economic impact of Chagas disease and found that the total economic burden of Chagas disease matches or exceeds that of many more well-known diseases such as rotavirus, Lyme disease and cervical cancer.

Chagas disease infects an estimated 10 million people worldwide, with most cases occurring in Latin America. It is a transmitted through an insect commonly known as the "." Its symptoms range from acute respiratory and to strokes, liver and heart disease. In some cases Chagas disease can be fatal.

The poorest countries in the region are especially impacted by this neglected tropical disease (NTD) because of the insect's propensity to live in impoverished communities that lack quality housing, access to essential medicines and practices. However the new study found that while the burden is considerable in Latin America, it is also significant in parts of the world not traditionally considered risk areas for Chagas disease, such as in North America and Europe.

The study estimates that the global economic cost of Chagas disease exceeds USD $7 billion annually. This cost surpasses that of rotavirus ($2 billion) and ($4.7 billion). Even in the United States, the economic burden of Chagas disease is comparable to the burden of much more publicized infectious diseases such as . According to the study, currently infected individuals will result in more future health care costs occurring in the United States (approximately $6.7 billion) than any other country.

"Lost productivity is a big part of the cost," said the study's lead author, Dr. Bruce Lee. "By just focusing on , or simple measures such as death caused by the disease, we miss a lot of the burden. We must examine the crucial impact lost productivity can have on society, businesses, governments and other key stakeholders."

Quantifying the of Chagas disease can help guide public health policy decisions, according to the study's co-author, Dr. Peter Hotez.

"We now have more evidence that Chagas disease is more than just a burden on human health in some of the poorest countries. All around the world, Chagas disease has a huge economic impact," said Dr. Hotez. "This new data should help inform policy decisions that will prioritize Chagas disease on research, policy and development agendas. This should include support for developing new vaccines for Chagas disease."

The Sabin Vaccine Institute Product Development Partnership (Sabin PDP), in collaboration with Texas Children's Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine and other PDP partners, is currently engaged in early research and development for a bivalent therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of chronic Chagas disease. If successful, it would be the first therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of this disease.

"Further studies quantifying Chagas disease-related costs on a regional or country level will help policymakers and other decision makers establish necessary control measures," added Dr. Hotez.

Explore further: Chagas disease may be a threat in South Texas, says researcher

Related Stories

Chagas disease may be a threat in South Texas, says researcher

October 6, 2011
Chagas disease, a tropical parasitic disease that can lead to life-threatening heart and digestive disorders, may be more widespread in Texas than previously thought, according to research from The University of Texas at ...

300,000 people in U.S. living with Chagas disease: report

July 5, 2012
(HealthDay) -- As many as 300,000 people in the United States may have chronic Chagas disease -- mostly spread by blood-sucking insects -- health officials report.

FDA approves new test for Chagas disease

November 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.

Researchers study Chagas disease—aim to prevent transmission

October 4, 2012
EU funding has supported a major initiative designed to promote research collaboration to support control programmes for Chagas disease in central and southern America.

Recommended for you

New study validates clotting risk factors in chronic kidney disease

January 17, 2018
In late 2017, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) discovered and published (Science Translational Medicine, (9) 417, Nov 2017) a potential treatment target to prevent chronic kidney disease (CKD) ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

Newly-discovered TB blood signal provides early warning for at-risk patients

January 17, 2018
Tuberculosis can be detected in people with HIV infection via a unique blood signal before symptoms appear, according to a new study by researchers from the Crick, Imperial College London and the University of Cape Town.

New study offers insights on genetic indicators of COPD risk

January 16, 2018
Researchers have discovered that genetic variations in the anatomy of the lungs could serve as indicators to help identify people who have low, but stable, lung function early in life, and those who are particularly at risk ...

Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic

January 16, 2018
While past exposure to influenza A viruses often builds immunity to similar, and sometimes different, strains of the virus, Canadian researchers are calling for more attention to exceptions to that rule.

0 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.