First Case Of Congenital Chagas Disease Transmittal In The U.S. Reported

A boy born in Virgina almost two years ago has proven to be the first person in the United States to have acquired the Chagas disease congenitally, from his own mother.

The boy was delivered via cesarean section at 29 weeks gestation in August 2010. About two weeks after his birth, his mother (a 31-year-old immigrant from Bolivia) told her doctors that she had previously been diagnosed with Chagas, and subsequent testing of the child revealed that he too was infected with the parasite that causes the disease. The boy was treated with unapproved drugs available through the CDC for use under investigatory protocols and his symptoms cleared up after 60 days and testing 10 months later showed no sign of the parasite that causes the disease, notes MedPageToday.

The Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, and is trasmitted to humans by blood-sucking insects. The insects that spread the disease are usually called “kissing bugs” because they tend to bite people in their lips. As many as 300,000 people in the United States may have chronic Chagas disease, according to NBC affiliate KNDO.

The case reports details a need for more awareness of the Chagas disease among healthcare providers in the United States, according to Fox. The disease is primarily seated in Latin America, but cases keep popping up in the U.S. and elsewhere, primarily due to migration according to the World Health Organization. The boy’s diagnosis “illustrates that congenital Chagas disease, even when severe, might not be recognized, or diagnosis might be delayed because of the lack of defining clinical features, or because the diagnosis is not considered,” said today’s CDC report.

“Based on the chronic morbidities and high mortalities, the prolonged and expensive treatment courses, the lack of therapeutic options, and barriers to access to essential medicines, a patient living with Chagas disease faces formidable challenges that resemble those faced by someone living with HIV/AIDS,” said Peter Hotez, MD, dean of Baylor College of Medicine’s National School of Tropical Medicine in Houston in an editorial.

Do you know anyone afflicted with the Chagas disease?