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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2016 Dec 7;95(6):1225-1227. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.16-0213. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

What Do We Know About Chagas Disease in the United States?

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Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.


Chagas disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, affects more than 5 million people worldwide leading to serious heart and gastrointestinal disease in a proportion of chronically infected patients. Important modes of transmission include vector-borne, congenital, and via blood transfusion or organ transplant from an infected donor. Vector-borne transmission of Chagas disease occurs in the Americas, including the southern half of North America, where the specific vector insects (triatomines), T. cruzi, and infected reservoir mammalian hosts are found. In the United States, there are estimated to be at least 300,000 cases of chronic Chagas disease among people originally from countries of Latin America where Chagas disease is endemic. Fewer than 30 cases of locally acquired infection have been documented in the United States, although a sylvatic transmission cycle has been known to exist in this country for at least a century. Studies defining risks for locally acquired infection and effective prevention strategies are needed to help prevent domestic transmission of T. cruzi To help address Chagas disease in the United States, improved health-care provider awareness and knowledge, better tools for screening and diagnosing patients, and wider availability of treatment drugs are needed.

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