Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi).
It is found mainly in endemic areas of Latin American, where it is mostly vector-borne transmitted to humans by contact with faeces of triatomine bugs.
Despite being endemic in Latin America, due to the intense migration of Latin Americans to the United States, Canada, several European countries and some Western Pacific countries, Chagas disease began to have global expression at the end of the 90s.
In Latin America, T. cruzi parasites are mainly transmitted by contact with faeces/urine of infected blood-sucking triatomine bugs. They usually bite an exposed area of skin such as the face, and the bug defecates close to the bite. The parasites enter the body when the person instinctively smears the bug faeces into the bite, the eyes, the mouth, or into any skin break.
However T. cruzi can also be transmitted by the consumption of food contaminated with T. cruzi; blood transfusion from infected donors; organ transplants using organs from infected donors; passage from an infected mother to her newborn during pregnancy or childbirth; and laboratory accidents.
Regarding to prevention, there is no vaccine for Chagas disease. Vector control is the most effective method of prevention in Latin America. Blood screening is necessary to prevent infection through transfusion and organ transplantation.