Chagas disease, a kinteoplastid disease also known as American trypanosomiasis, is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, or (T. cruzi).
The main vector involved in the transmission of the parasite to humans is a triatomine bug, also known as the ‘kissing bug’. If left untreated, the parasitic infection is lifelong and can develop into life-threatening cardiovascular, intestinal and neurological complications.
Traditionally seen as a disease affecting Latin America the past few decades have seen huge changes to socio-economics, rural exodus, deforestation and rapid urbanisation have changed the epidemiological landscape of the disease, from a rural to a more urban/peri-urban disease.
The WHO estimates 8 million people are infected worldwide with over 10 000 people dying every year from clinical manifestations of Chagas disease, and more than 25 million people at risk of acquiring the disease. More than 300,000 people in the United States are infected with the parasite that causes Chagas disease – and most don’t know it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Vector control remains the most common method to prevent infection with blood screening being vital in terms of avoiding infection through transfusion and organ transplantation scenarios. Screening and diagnosis in pregnant women and their children are also seen widely as essential control measures.
Treatment options are available in endemic countries, but not in some of the developed world countries where Chagas now increasingly presents. For instance, there are no approved therapies for the treatment of Chagas in the U.S.
A further factor in the spread of Chagas from endemic to non-endemic regions has been that of HIV and T.cruzi Coinfection - the rapid global spread of HIV and immuno -complications of co-infected cases have resulted in the diagnosis of T.cruzi in HIV positive patients being very difficult with acute features such as neurological symptoms.
HIV - T.cruzi co-infections has modified both the pathology of the disease but also its epidemiology.
The ISNTD is an independent organisation providing a multidisciplinary global platform to accelerate partnerships to alleviate the burden of NTDs on the world's poorest and most vulnerable, with the ultimate goal of reaching sustainable healthcare provision & poverty reduction in the developing world.
The ISNTD is commited to highlighting the work and scope of researchers, organisations and policy bodies worldwide.
The Society believes that this goal cannot be achieved without strengthening the ties between all the parties already involved in NTD alleviation and addressing the socio-ecological and socio-political context of NTDs, in order to achieve not only the cure but also the prevention of NTDs with true and sustainable local leadership.
As a result, the Society has developed a vibrant, proactive and international Membership base and facilitates the development of concrete partnerships throughout its network and activities.