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Chagas Disease

Clinical Infectious Diseases: Open Access
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Special Issue: Chagas Disease

Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) is a silent killer that generates Chagas disease (CD), with a prevalence of around 7 million cases in 21 countries in Latin America [Benzinger 2017], 300,000 new chagasics and 7,000 death every year. This infection generates an annual global burden of $ 7.2 billion in health-care costs, and in the United States it was estimated at $ 2,162 annually [Lee 2013]. The calculation of Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) have been estimated at 806,170, this is a measure of global disease burden, expressed as the number of years lost due to illness, disability or premature death [Lee 2013]. The problem is so catastrophic that the long-term cost associated with this infection in the US is already the highest in the world.

The economic burden of CD exceeds those of other prominent globally (eg, rotavirus $ 2,0 billion, cervical cancer $ 4,7 billion) even in the USA (Lyme disease $ 2,5 billion), where this infection has not endemic, suggesting an economic argument for more attention and efforts towards control of Chagas disease. The average cost per treated patient is 474 USD per year, while the cost in terms of productivity exceeds 4,600 USD per year [https://www.isglobal.org/enfermedad-de-chagas]. About 30% of chagasic people can present the following clinical symptoms: fever, fatigue, heart failure, swelling of the eyelids, loss of appetite, enlargement of the liver or spleen, arrhythmia. The severe heart damage can trigger the death of the patient due to a myocardial infarction.

CD has crossed the borders of Latin America and reached countries such as Canada, USA, as well as some countries in Europe, Asia and Oceania. It seems incredible that such a serious infection, discovered more than a century ago, does not generate alarm from the governments or the most renowned public health institutions worldwide, as well as from the big pharmaceutical industries. For these reasons it has been included among the most important neglected diseases worldwide, together with the fact that it is one of the leading causes of death due to myocardial infarction and sudden death in endemic countries.

After the parasite invades the mammalian host (acute phase) there are no specific apparent symptoms, for this reason it is said that Chagas is a silent and inapparent infection (indeterminate phase), which produces no noise. CD usually produces alarm after 30 years. of the initial infection (chronic phase), when the microorganism has wreaked havoc on the host, at the time it is discovered it is sometimes too late and the person dies irremediably. All this is aggravated by the framework of extreme poverty and underdevelopment in which the affected population struggles, where the material barriers are added to the cultural barriers to understand the situation, with the consequent ignorance of the magnitude of the problem.

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