Alternate Names : American trypanosomiasis
Chagas disease is an illness spread by insects. It is common in South and Central America.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Chagas disease is caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasite related to the African trypanosome that causes sleeping sickness. It is spread by reduvid bugs and is one of the major health problems in South America. Due to immigration, the disease also affects people in the United States.
Risk factors for Chagas disease include:
- Living in a hut where reduvid bugs live in the walls
- Living in Central or South America
- Receiving a blood transfusion from a person who carries the parasite but does not have active Chagas disease
Pictures & Images
Triatomid, the kissing bug, can carry Chagas’ disease (American trypanosomiasis). (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Antigens are large molecules (usually proteins) on the surface of cells, viruses, fungi, bacteria, and some non-living substances such as toxins, chemicals, drugs, and foreign particles. The immune system recognizes antigens and produces antibodies that destroy substances containing antigens.
Chagas disease : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Chagas disease : Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests
Chagas disease : Treatment
Review Date : 9/3/2008
Reviewed By : D. Scott Smith, M.D., MSc, DTM&H, Chief of Infectious Disease & Geographic Medicine, Kaiser Redwood City, CA & Adjunct Assistant Professor, Stanford University. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.