Dr Prem Global Healthcare Logo

Chagas: Threat to blood transfusion and organ supplies in U.S.

Recently a human tropical parasitic disease Chagas also called American trypanosomiasis has been a matter of concern in U.S. The situation is especially serious in Los Angeles, with one in 3,800 donors tested positive for Chagas.

Main symptoms of the disease include constipation, malaise, inability to swallow, fever, and abdominal pain. These are caused by a microscopic pathogen called Trypamosoma cruzi, or T. cruzi, a protozoan parasite. T. cruzi is transmitted to humans by Triatomine insects, called vinchucas and barbeiros. T.cruzi inhabits its victims’ cells, and colonizes the heart, colon, and esophagus.
chagas disease 2222
It is estimated that as many as 11 million people are currently infected by T. cruzi. The infection is caused from the bite of an infected insect that looks like a striped cockroach but also can be transmitted through blood transfusions or organ transplants.

If detected early, strong anti-protozoal drugs such as nifurtimox can eliminate it, if not atleast bring the parasite to undetectable levels. But if the parasite is given the chance to multiply over years, then infected patients may have to go for heart transplant.

In December as a precautionary measure the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a test suitable for widespread screening. Blood banks have now begun systematically checking their supplies for the Chagas parasite. This new test identifies infected donors and therefore can reduce the risk of disease transmission through blood transfusion or organ transplantation.

In studies reviewed by FDA, the test was found to be accurate 99%, detecting 198 out of 199 blood specimens from individuals believed to be infected.

Concerns about Chagas disease have increased due to increase in the number of U.S. residents who previously lived in countries where the infection is common.

Opponents of illegal immigration argue that exotic disease like Chagas is often spread by illegal immigrants because legal immigrants are medically screened to protect the U.S. public.

Thus, apart from approving medical test for detection of Chagas, the Government should also think seriously about the illegal immigration issue, more so in an increasingly mobile world with a global economy.

To know in detail about Chagas disease, visit the following link:

Division of Parasitic Diseases – Chagas Disease Fact Sheet

Trypanosoma cruzi and Chagas disease

CHAGAS Disease

Blood Donor Screening for Chagas Disease — United States, 2006-2007
Chagas’ Disease – Results of T. cruzi Antibody Donor Testing

Via: Deadly parasite found in donated organs in U.S.

Image courtsey: Los Angeles Times

Recent Articles:

Scroll to Top