Never heard of Chagas Disease, neither had I until I reviewed some articles on diseases that are gaining ground in the US. Some diseases thought eradicated like TB are reemerging and some are less known.
What is Chagas Disease? It is a disease where your blood is infected with the blood sucking parasite, T.Cruzi (triatomine insect or reduviid bugs). They are also called the ‘the kissing bug’ and here, the American Trypanosomiais .
How Are You Infected? They are like bed bugs in that they hide in walls, and roofs, then come out at night to suck the blood of those who are sleeping. They enter your body through the eyes, mouth, a wound or scratch, by blood transfusion. They may also enter with uncooked or undercooked food. Once in the body they multiply and infect tissues and organs such as the heart, intestines, and colon. This disease is estimated to infect between 11-14 million south of the border. The parasite kills 50,000 people each year by destroying organs. There have been 9 heart transplant patients who were infected during their transplant operation by infected blood who later died. This is documented. At this point they do not routinely test the blood for this parasite.
Why do I need to be concerned? I was born here: Many people are of Mexican descent. Many people here have family across the border and so go back and forth on a daily basis. There are thousands of people who live in Mexico and work here. There are thousands living here who travel to Mexico daily or weekly for business or pleasure. This is why you should be concerned. There are 14 million people who are infected right now, most of which do not know they have it. If you have family in Mexico that visit your house frequently and you visit them in Mexico, you are at risk. Perhaps you had those symptoms at one time or another and thought it was a spider bite, bed bug bites, or other insect bite that is not a parasite. You would dismiss the whole event unless you were aware of the problem.
Geographic Areas Most At Risk: Mexico; Central America; South America; some regions of Latin America; Southern California due to our close ties with Mexico and immigration; Texas; and any state where there is a border crossing from Mexico. There are immigrants from Mexico all over the US now. We have a huge population moving across our border either legally or illegally. If they are here illegally, they may not seek treatment for symptoms. After the acute stage, there are no symptoms for months or years. The majority of people coming from Mexico and Latin America have no idea they are infected. It is not screened for here in the public health clinics at present. That blood test is not required for a physical or job employment physical. Most doctors here are not even aware of the problem. Anyone going in with symptoms would be most likely misdiagnosed as having a cold or flu.
What Are The Symptoms of Chagas Disease? There are initial symptoms after the first bites or acute stage. After that, there are no real symptoms until the 3rd stage or chronic stage which can be months or years later.
Acute Stage Symptoms: The acute symptoms include swelling of the infection site, fatigue, fever, rash, loss of appetite, nausea , vomiting, swollen glands or enlargement of the liver and spleen. The problem with these symptoms is that they would probably be diagnosed by a doctor as a cold or flu. You may not have symptoms at all or only mild symptoms. Most people, especially Americans born here, would not think their illness was from a parasite. So these symptoms would go misdiagnosed.
The 3rd Stage or Chronic Stage: Chronic symptoms manifest themselves months or years later after the parasite has destroyed organs and tissues. Symptoms may mask themselves as other diseases. You may have an irregular hearbeat, enlarged heart, congestive heart failure, difficulty in swallowing, and abdominal pain or constipation from the colon that is now compromised. Most of the time these symptoms would go misdiagnosed as heart disease not caused by a parasite. Unless an autopsy was performed, it would go into the death records that way.
How is it diagnosed? There are blood tests that can confirm the presence of the T.cruzi parasite. You need to make your doctor aware you are at risk. He may not be familiar with the disease so will look for other causes for the symptoms. Take some information on Chagas Disease with you and ask him to run the tests.
How is it treated: The treatment in the acute stage is to kill the parasite and manage the symptoms. Benznidozole and Nifurtimox are two drugs used to treat the T.cruzi parasite. In the chronic stage, once it has damaged the heart and organs, you must manage the disease conditions it has caused. If you live in the US, the drugs to treat this parasite are only available through the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.
Prevention: It is a good idea twice a year to go through a cleanse that will kill parasites. This is not the only parasite to infect humans. There are many. Some come from the soil or water we drink. Americans tend to take the attitude that they could not be infected with a parasite. They live in a nice house, a nice neighborhood, eat well, and have a high standard of living compared to many countries and that is true. But many native born Americans do have parasites in their body and will never realize that some of their ill health is caused by that. Parasites do not just infect people in slums and people who live in poor countries like Latin America. We are having the same problem with head lice and bed bugs now. Any person no matter what their economic standard can be infected with parasites. If you have an good immune system, you many not have many symptoms but they are still there.
Herbs That are Used To Kill Parasites: There are many herbal formulations that kill parasites. You can easily buy them at your health food store or online. These herbs have been traditionally used for ages to kill parasites. In the pioneer days is was a health practice given twice a year. They realized the problem back then. Now in today’s modern American world, most Americans don’t even want to think about the possibility of needing a cleanse.
A parasitic formula would generally contain the following herbs: Black Walnut Hulls have been shown to kill the adult and developmental stage of over 100 different parasites. Wormwood taken from the Artemisia shrub also kills both the adult and eggs. Cloves only kill the eggs. You must kill both the adult and the eggs to rid your body of the parasite. When you are using these herbs. You may get a headache or nausea while the process is accomplished over several weeks. Other herbs used in the formulation may include pumpkin seeds, garlic, black seed, and peppermint.