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World Chagas Disease Day: WHO calls for early detection for better health

IANS Apr 15, 2024

Early detection of Chagas disease, responsible for 12,000 deaths every year, may help cure and promote better health, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on World Chagas Disease Day on April 14.

World Chagas Disease Day is observed every year on April 14 to raise awareness about the infectious disease caused by a protozoan parasite (Trypanosoma cruzi). The theme this year is "Tackling Chagas Disease: detect early and care for life".

"The World Chagas Disease Day is a reminder that in Latin America and elsewhere in the world, many people with this terrible disease go undiagnosed and untreated," the WHO Director-General said in a video message posted on X.com.

"Chagas disease has been reported in 44 countries. But only six have systems in place to monitor cases and transmission with early diagnosis, lifelong follow-up, and care when needed," he added.

As per the WHO, trypanosoma, which infects about 6-7 million people worldwide, can be spread by the bug, via food, during pregnancy, or during birth (congenital). It can also be transmitted through blood/blood products, organ transplantation, and laboratory accidents.

The disease is often called “silent and silenced disease” as most people with the infection present no symptoms or have extremely mild flu-like symptoms. But, it can turn deadly with serious complications, including heart and intestinal tract problems. Even as the disease is curable if treated soon after infection, blood screening plays a big role.

"People with Chagas disease can live healthy and productive lives. Screening communities at risk of Chagas disease can identify those infected and ensure they receive care as soon as possible," the WHO chief said.

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