Over 300,000 Americans have already been infected with the potentially fatal ‘kissing bug disease’ called Chagas but U.S. healthcare workers lack of knowledge about the illness is letting many cases of the parasite unnoticed. Some doctors are calling it the ‘new AIDS’ because of the way it develops.
Researchers who gathered on Tuesday at the annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in New Orleans said that if caught early the disease can be cured however sometimes the disease can be asymptomatic and there is a dearth in medication for the condition.
The CDC reports that the initial symptoms of the disease caused by a parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which is spread through the feces of kissing bugs includes fever, fatigue, body aches, rash, diarrhea and vomiting. One of the first visual signs can be a skin lesion or a purplish swelling of the lid of one eye.
The disease can develop in the body causing eventual heart failure and other deadly complications that by the time they are realized cannot be helped with medicine.
Chagas is being called the new AIDS because of its asymptomatic beginnings that can turn to a fatal end if the disease progresses.
‘We were astonished to not only find such a high rate of individuals testing positive for Chagas in their blood, but also high rates of heart disease that appear to be Chagas-related,’ said Nolan Garcia, an epidemiologist at the Baylor College of Medicine.
The CDC has said that they believe most of the people infected with Chagas got the parasite in Mexico or South America before coming to the U.S.