Those of you wise enough to buy my Parasites Handbook (a must-have in this day and age of the “world village”) will know I wrote about a new menace heading north in the Americas.
It’s carried by so-called “kissing bugs”, which bite you round the mouth while you sleep and infects you with the Chagas disease creepy parasite: the American trypanosome.
More than 8 million people have been infected by potentially fatal Chagas disease, most of them in Latin and Central America. But more than 300,000 live in the United States.
An editorial, published the Public Library of Science’s Neglected Tropical Diseases journal, said the spread of the disease is reminiscent of the early years of HIV.
The US’s Centers for Disease Control has branded Chagas as one of five serious and “neglected” parasite diseases. The journal editorial called Chagas, “the new AIDS of the Americas.”
Both diseases disproportionately affect people living in poverty, both are chronic conditions requiring prolonged, expensive treatment, and as with patients in the first two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, most patients with Chagas disease do not have access to health care facilities.
However, Chagas is not a sexually-transmitted disease: it’s spread by “Kissing bugs” (Family Reduviidae), which bite the unsuspecting victims around the lips, usually at night. It’s hard to stop and this pest has now spread to California, Arizona and other parts of the Southern USA.
Chagas, kills about 20,000 people per year. It’s difficult to cure (unless you get my book) and around 20 percent of those infected with Chagas will develop a life-threatening form of the disease.
About a quarter of its victims eventually will develop enlarged hearts or intestines, which can fail or burst, causing sudden death. Treatment involves harsh drugs taken for up to three months and works only if the disease is caught early.
The problem is once the heart symptoms start, which is the most dreaded complication, the medicines no longer work very well, and they are extremely toxic.
You need the holistic approach, that’s for sure.
And 11 percent of pregnant women in Latin America are infected with Chagas, the journal said.
Here’s where to get my Parasites Handbook: