Chagas disease - Symptoms, causes and treatment

American trypanosomiasis or pChagas disease is a disease that spread through the bite of an insect named kissing bug or Triatomine. These insects mainly bite humans at night. Bite Triatomine will transmit parasites Trypanosoma cruzi, causes Chagas disease.

Chagas disease is widespread in Central and South American countries, and is more common in children. To date, there have been no reports of Chagas disease in Indonesia.

This disease can cause heart problems. Therefore, please be careful of this disease, for those of you who want to vacation in these countries.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease

After being bitten by an insect until symptoms of Chagas disease appear, there is a fairly long time span, which is 3 days - 4 months. Symptoms of Chagas disease also last a long time, it can be for several weeks to several months. Symptoms that appear include:

  • Swelling at the bitten area
  • Flu-like symptoms, namely fever, weakness, no appetite, muscle aches, headache.
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Swollen eyelids.
  • Rash on the skin.
  • The appearance of lumps due to swelling of the glands of the body.

In some cases, Chagas disease can cause inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis) and inflammation of the lining of the heart (pericarditis). Immediately see a doctor if you develop symptoms of shortness of breath and chest pain.

Causes of Chagas' Disease

Chagas disease is caused by a parasitic infection Trypanosoma cruzi, which is transmitted through insect bites kissing bug (Triatomine). In addition to insect bites, this parasite can be transmitted through:

  • Blood transfusion from patient
  • Contact with food and drink contaminated from the patient's feces
  • Intimate relationships with sufferers
  • Organ donors from patients.

Pregnant and lactating mothers can also transmit this disease to their unborn babies or babies who are breastfed.

Chagas Disease Diagnosis

When consulting with a doctor, the doctor will ask questions related to symptoms, such as when the symptoms appeared, whether they had recently traveled from an area, diseases that had been suffered before, as well as the drugs that were being consumed. After that the doctor will perform a physical examination.

If a person is suspected of having Chagas disease, the doctor will advise the patient to do a blood test to look for parasites T. cruzi in the body and see the body's response to infection. In addition, the doctor will also perform other supporting tests such as:

  • Heart record test. This test, also known as an EKG, is done to check the electrical activity of the heart.
  • Chest X-ray. The doctor will perform this examination to see the condition of the heart and lungs, with the help of x-rays.
  • Heart Ultrasound. This examination, also known as echocardiography, is done to see how the heart works in pumping blood, using sound waves.
  • endoscope or binoculars. To see clearly whether there are abnormalities in the digestive tract.

Chagas Disease Treatment

The main focus of treatment for Chagas disease is to eradicate the parasite, as well as relieve the symptoms that arise from the parasite infection. Doctors can give antiparasitic drugs that need to be taken for a long time, which is 60-90 days. The drug is benznidazole or nifurtimox.

Chagas Disease Complications

If Chagas disease is not treated properly, the infection can develop into a chronic condition. Complications of this disease can appear within 10-20 years after infection.

Complications that can arise are:

  • Heart failure
  • Widening of the esophagus or esophagus (megaesophagus)
  • Dilated bowel (megacolon).

When complications have occurred, of course, treatment will be more difficult. Some of the actions that doctors take to treat complications of Chagas disease are:

  • Giving drugs for heart failure, for example beta blockers, drugs ACE inhibitor, and
  • Insertion of a pacemaker.
  • Heart transplant surgery.
  • Gastrointestinal surgery.

Chagas Disease Prevention

Until now there is no specific vaccine to prevent Chagas disease. However, there are several ways that can be done to reduce the risk of contracting parasites T. cruzi, that is:

  • Installing mosquito nets on the bed
  • Use mosquito repellent
  • Keeping food clean and its storage
  • Perform routine pregnancy check-ups.