What is Chagas Disease?

Impact

70 million people at risk
Approximately 6-8 million people infected
About 12,000 deaths annually

Less than 1% of infected people have access to diagnosis and current treatments
Chronic Chagas disease results in significant disability with great social and economic impact including unemployment and decreased earning ability.

Geography

Endemic in 21 countries across Latin America, Chagas disease kills more people in the region each year than any other parasite-born disease, including malaria. Patient numbers are growing in non-endemic, developed countries (eg. Australia, Canada, Japan, Spain, and the United States), due to increased migration of Latin American immigrants unknowingly carrying the parasite in their blood (see map).

Transmission

Caused by the kinetoplastid protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, Chagas disease is primarily transmitted by large, blood-sucking reduviid insects widely known as “the kissing bugs” in endemic countries. Other ways of transmission are blood transfusion, organ transplantation, as well as congenital and oral transmissions.
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Symptoms

The disease has two clinical stages:

– Acute (in which 5% of children die) characterized by fever, malaise, facial oedema, generalized lymphadenopathy, and hepatosplenomegaly – often spontaneously resolves in four to six weeks– Chronic disease has two phases:

  • Chronic asymptomatic “indeterminate” disease, during which patients can transmit the parasite to others while showing no signs of the disease, can last 10 years to life
  • Chronic symptomatic disease develops in 10% to 30% of infected patients and most often involves the heart or gastrointestinal tract.

Chagas disease is a leading cause of infectious cardiomyopathy worldwide.

Patient treatment needs

Improved treatment options are needed for all stages of Chagas infection:

  • A paediatric strength which is affordable, age-adapted, safe, and efficacious would cure patients early on in the disease.
  • A new drug for chronic disease that is safe, efficacious, and adapted to the field, and ideally would work in both stages of the disease.

DNDi aims to deliver:

  • Alternative regimens of existing drugs (lower doses, shorter treatment duration, and combinations).
  • A safe and efficacious new drug treatment of chronic Chagas patients, ideally efficacious for acute Chagas patients, also safe to use during pregnancy.
  • An early test of cure and/or markers of therapeutic response.

 

Fact sheet

DNDi Chagas Disease Fact Sheet