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Chagas: U.S. and Mexico Should Fight Serious Disease, Says Report

Nov 05, 2015 05:46 PM EST
A triatomine, or "kissing bug"
A new public-policy report notes that the United States and Mexico should team up to fight Chagas disease, the third-most common parasitic infection in the world.
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Chagas disease, the third-most common parasitic infection in the world, has been called a "neglected disease" by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is inflammatory and infectious and affects about 7.5 million people, particularly children. Found in Latin America and sometimes in the southern United States, Chagas results from a parasite in a certain bug's feces. The insect is the triatomine (reduviid) bug, according to the CDC. It is also called a "kissing bug" because of its blood-sucking tendencies.

Because Chagas is very much a border-crossing phenomenon, a recent policy brief notes that the United States and Mexico should join together in implementing programs against the disease and funding research to develop vaccines and treatments, said a release.

The paper is called "Chagas Disease: Sharing the Burden and the Solutions in the United States and Mexico," and is from Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, co-authored by Kirstin Matthews and Jennifer Herricks, according to a release.

"Traditionally, Chagas disease is commonly believed to afflict only the poor in rural parts of Latin America," Matthews said in the release. "However, the migration of infected humans, animals and insects has brought the parasite causing the disease, T. cruzi, to other parts of the world, including the U.S. and Mexico. Through cross-border collaborations, the two countries' governments can take steps to reduce the risk of Chagas disease by increasing awareness among health care providers and the community to protect their most vulnerable citizens, implementing control and surveillance programs and developing novel treatments for acute and chronic Chagas disease."

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