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Euro Surveill. 2011 Sep 15;16(37). pii: 19969.

Chagas disease in Italy: breaking an epidemiological silence.

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Centre for Tropical Diseases, Sacro Cuore - Don Calabria Hospital, Negrar, Italy.


Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease that due to population movements is no longer limited to Latin America, threatens a wide spectrum of people(travellers, migrants, blood or organ recipients,newborns, adoptees) also in non-endemic countries where it is generally underdiagnosed. In Italy, the available epidemiological data about Chagas disease have been very limited up to now, although the country is second in Europe only to Spain in the number of residents from Latin American. Among 867 at-risk subjectsscreened between 1998 and 2010, the Centre for Tropical Diseases in Negrar (Verona) and the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Unit, University of Florence found 4.2% patients with positive serology for Chagas disease (83.4% of them migrants, 13.8% adoptees).No cases of Chagas disease were identified in blood donors or HIV-positive patients of Latin American origin. Among 214 Latin American pregnant women,three were infected (resulting in abortion in one case).In 2005 a case of acute Chagas disease was recorded in an Italian traveller. Based on our observations, we believe that a wider assessment of the epidemiological situation is urgently required in our country and public health measures preventing transmission and improving access to diagnosis and treatment should be implemented.

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