How is chagas spread?
I will be traveling to Latin America and heard about chagas. How can I keep from getting it. I am a 33 year old male traveler.
Chagas disease is a parasitic infection caused by a small microscopic organism that infects cells inside the body, leading to various problems, most notable a chance for developing serious heart problems later in life. In fact Chagas disease is one of the most common causes of heart failure in some countries in Latin America. The disease is spread by a large biting insect called the "kissing bug." This bug bites and sucks blood much like a mosquito. When it does so, it defecates on the skin and the parasite, which lives in the feces, enters through the bite. Fortunately, the incidence of Chagas disease has been decreasingly rapidly in most places in Latin America due to attempts to eradicate the biting insect. Therefore, unless you will be traveling in remote areas and living in substandard housing (mud walls or thatched roofs) your chances of getting Chagas are very, very low. On the other hand, the blood supply in many countries where Chagas disease occurs may be contaminated by the infection. Therefore, you should be very careful if you have any serious illness or accident in one of the countries and end up needing a blood transfusion. Talk to your primary care doctor if you have any other pre travel questions.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
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