Chagas disease affects around six to seven million people, mainly in endemic areas of Latin American countries. Chagas disease is a parasitic infection caused by contact with the faeces of infected blood-sucking insects (called kissing bugs) which infest people’s homes.
Chagas disease can also be passed on by eating food contaminated by kissing bugs, through blood transfusions or organ transplants, or to children during birth.
After an often mild acute phase of a few weeks – with non-specific symptoms such as fever, body aches, rashes, diarrhoea and vomiting – most people will go a long time without showing any signs of the disease, and are often unaware they have the illness. An estimated 30% to 40% of infected people will eventually develop serious complications, including heart disease and enlargement of the colon and oesophagus, which can incapacitate and quite frequently result in death.
Estimated number of people living with Chagas disease