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 21 Latin American countries1, where it is mostly transmitted to humans by the faeces of triatomine bugs, known as ‘kissing bugs’ , among other names, depending on the geographical area.
About 7 million to 8 million people are estimated to be infected worldwide, mostly in Latin America where Chagas disease is endemic. The cost of treatment for Chagas disease remains substantial. In Colombia alone, the annual cost of medical care for all patients with the disease has been estimated to be about US$ 267 million. Spraying insecticide to control vectors would cost nearly US$ 5 million annually.
Chagas disease is named after Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano Chagas, a Brazilian doctor who first discovered the disease in 1909.