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In 1 week, 2 dozen cases of Chagas found in Yucatan

'Kissing bug' cases spike without warning

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Chagas is transmitted by Triatominae bugs. Photo: Getty

Merida, Yucatan — The states official epidemiological bulletin reports 24 new cases of Chagas between Feb. 3 and 9.

In the month of February, 27 cases have been reported in total to date.

A year ago, the Autonomous University of Yucatán received a 6-million-peso grant for vaccine research to combat the insidious parasitic disease that infects thousands in 21 Latin American countries.

The disease is caused by the nocturnal insect Triatoma dimidiata, known localy as “pic” and to English-speakers as “kissing bugs.”

Chagas is a potentially deadly parasitic condition caused by the microorganism Trypanosoma cruzi. It is also transmitted to humans by blood transfusions, organ transplants and contaminated foods.

The spike was sudden. January saw just three cases and in all of 2018, 62 Chagas cases were reported in Yucatan.

About 7 million to 8 million people worldwide are estimated to be infected with the potentially deadly parasite.

The insects that spread Chagas are called “kissing bugs” because they like biting sleeping humans around their lips and faces.

Most victims do not know they are infected. The disease is generally considered to be mild or even asymptomatic, but a recent study has found that deaths connected to the infection are much more common than previously understood.

The disease disproportionately affects poor communities.

The disease was first described in 1909 by the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas.

Sources: Outbreak News Today, archives

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