What is Chagas Disease?
70 million people at risk
Approximately 6-7 million people infected
About 14,000 deaths annually
Fewer than 10% people are diagnosed and only a few number receive the treatment they need
Chronic Chagas disease results in significant disability with great social and economic impact including unemployment and decreased earning ability.
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).
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.
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 new, safer, more affordable, and effective treatments for people affected by Chagas disease.
- Improve access to diagnosis and treatment using existing tools.
Visual patient stories
Voices of Chagas in the USA
No longer silent
Ending the neglect of Chagas
Revealing the neglect: Chagas disease