Chagas Disease: Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV

Epidemiology Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, and transmitted to humans by infected triatomine bugs, and less commonly by transfusion, organ transplant, from mother to infant, and in rare instances, by ingestion of contaminated food or drink.1-4 The hematophagous triatomine vectors defecate during or immediately after feeding on a person. The parasite is present in large numbers in the feces of infected bugs, and enters the human body through the bite wound, or through the intact conjunctiva or other mucous membrane. Vector-borne transmission occurs only in the Americas, where an estimated 8 to 10 million people have Chagas disease.5 Historically, transmission occurred largely in rural areas in Latin America, where houses built of mud brick are vulnerable to colonization by the triatomine vectors.4 In such areas, Chagas disease usually is acquired in childhood. In the last several decades, successful vector control programs have substantially decreased transmission rates in much of Latin America, and large-scale migration has brought infected individuals to cities both within and outside of Latin America.