Chagas: a dangerous disease always present in the Yucatan

(Photo: Yucatán al Instante)

Urbanization and high temperatures cause kissing bugs also called Pic to migrate to urban areas, other reason is that its predators are increasingly affected by human activity, which brings these insects into Yucatecan homes.

Humans are invading the habitat of frogs, toads, possums, iguanas, and lizards among other animals that eat the Pic. 

Merida. Yucatan, April 12, 2022.- “The Pic (Triatoma dimidiata) is a hematophagous insect, that is, it feeds exclusively on blood; and lives in jungles or tropical forests. This species is widely distributed in the Mexican tropical region, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula, and transmits Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis)”, said Dr. Laura Civeira Gonzalez, epidemiologist of the ISSSTE Medical Sub delegation.

The specialist said that in the world there are about 7 million people infected by Chagas disease, the parasite that causes the disease is called Trypanosoma cruzi.

Trypanosoma cruzi is a parasitic protozoan that is the causative agent of Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis). It is present in 21 Latin American countries in the world, the contagion is due to the mixture of blood with feces or urine of triatomine insects known as Pic (i,n Yucatan) kissing bugs, or bed bugs. These insects live in cracks or holes in the walls or roofs of houses or outdoors such as chicken coops, farmyards, and warehouses, they are found in rural and suburban areas, they normally remain hidden during the day but come out at night to feed on mammals, including humans.

The infectologist said that for this reason, it is necessary to have the culture of using mosquito nets and fumigating the premises regularly, these insects bite when people are asleep on the face and body while they defecate, urinate near the bite and people scratch without knowing that they are incubating the disease that, in many cases, takes up to 20 years to manifest and cause death.

Sometimes the disease can provoke fever, headache, pain in different parts of the body and the swelling of an eyelid, difficulty breathing, during the chronic phase the parasites hide in the heart muscle, and only 10% present digestive alterations, neurological or mixed. Over the years, the disease can cause sudden death due to cardiac arrhythmias or progressive heart failure as a result of the destruction of the heart muscle and its innervations.

This disease has a cure if it is treated in time by killing the parasite in the acute stage, even in cases of congenital transmission, the reactions affect older people more.

Until today there is no vaccine against Chagas disease, it has been calculated that the cost of medical care for patients with chronic cardiac, digestive, neurological, or mixed forms of the disease is more than 80% higher than the cost of fumigating with residual insecticide to control vectors and prevent infection.

IMPORTANT: If a Pic bites a person, it is recommended not to scratch the bite. Photo: (Yucatán ahora)

The Yucatan Times
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