Chagas disease is also known as American trypanosomiasis. It is caused by infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, a single-celled parasite. The parasite is transmitted by several species of triatomine bugs (“kissing bugs,” “cone-nose bug,” “vinchuca”). Humans, dogs, and many other species of domestic and wild animals are susceptible to infection. The parasite and its vector are present in the Americas. This includes most of South America to the southern half of the United States (U.S.), including all regions of Texas. Human infection is common in some parts of Latin America. It is rare within the U.S. because of improved housing conditions.
The Pan American Health Organization estimates infection in approximately eight million people in Latin America. This equals about 12,000 deaths per year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates infection in approximately 300,000 people in the U.S. Most infected people are immigrants from high-risk areas of Latin America. Human cases acquired in Texas are uncommon.
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