Chagas disease, affecting millions of people in Central and South America, is classified as one of the 17 most important neglected diseases by the World Health Organization.
Chagas disease is an insect-borne parasitic disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi. A bite from an infected Triatominae, or kissing bug, can cause initial swelling, fever, and headaches but symptoms generally fade away after a few months.
Infected people can then live for decades with no more signs of the disease, during which time clinicians have assumed they have no increased mortality. Years later, it’s known that cardiac, neurological, and digestive symptoms of Chagas can reemerge.
The fact that Chagas disease was not reported as an underlying or associated cause of death on the death certificate of 42% of seropositive donors that died due to cardiac causes demonstrates under ascertainment of Chagas disease pathogenesis, highlighting its status as a neglected tropical disease.