A Chagas’ Disease Primer: Part 5

If you wish to read the Chagas’ Disease primer in order, click here to go to Part 1 and follow the links.

Acute Chagas’ Disease? What are the chances?

If a person gets bit by an infected chirimacha or vinchuca (the Peruvian and Argentine words for the assassin bug, respectively, is it likely that acute illness will ensue? What percentage of persons bit will get the symptoms that the previous primer post elaborated?

Fortunately, very few will get sick, perhaps less than 5%.These people won’t get the flu-like illness, nor will they get the chagoma. Life will go on as if nothing had ever happened.

Which is good, right?  After all, current estimates (we’ll talk more about these estimates later)  put the number of those at risk for getting assassin bug bites at around 100 million.

As it turns out, it might be better to know that you’ve been bitten. While feeling kind of punk for a few weeks would really stink, it would be good to get some kind of sign that the little parasites were working their way through your system. As it turns out, acute Chagas’ Disease isn’t the problem. It’s the chronic form that shows up 20-30 years later, when it’s too late to do much about it.  30% of those infected will get the chronic form, which could be anywhere (once again, those wildly-ranging estimates) from 8 million to upwards of 12 million people in Latin America.

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