American trypanosomiasis

Below you will find more information about American trypanosomiasis from Medigest. If you believe that you are suffering from any of the symptoms of American trypanosomiasis it is important that you obtain an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional to ensure that you obtain the correct medication or treatment for your condition. There are medical conditions that carry similar symptoms associated with American trypanosomiasis and therefore the information provided by Medigest is offered as a guideline only and should never be used in preference to seeking professional medical advice. The information relating to American trypanosomiasis comes from a third party source and Medigest will not be held liable for any inaccuracies relating to the information shown.

Definition

American trypanosomiasis, also known as Chagas' disease, is a human parasitic disease, which occurs in tropical areas in South America. The pathogenic agent of this disease is a "flagellate protozoan" called "Trypanosoma cruzi", which is transmitted to mammals by blood-sucking assassin bugs of the Reduviidae Family. These insects are also called barbeiro, chupanca, chipo, vinchuca, benchuca and kissing bug. However, other forms of transmission are possible; some affected patients acquire the disease through fetal or blood transmission as well as ingestion of food contaminated with various parasites.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of American trypanosomiasis can be achieved through microscopic examination, isolation of the agent, immunodiagnostic tests and through Molecular Biology techniques.

Treatment

Available drugs for American trypanosomiasis are usually unsatisfactory. The current drugs available are usually ineffective and highly toxic, especially in the chronic stages of American trypanosomiasis. However, some drugs can be effective when the disease is still on the acute stages. The drugs used for acute American trypanosomiasis are nitroderivatives or azole, such as nifurtimox and benznidazole. However, there have been reports of resistance to these available medications. Since these drugs may cause adverse effects, it is recommended to take them only with medical supervision. In the chronic stages of American trypanosomiasis, treatment includes management of the clinical manifestations. However, the disease itself is not curable by any medication.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of American trypanosomiasis vary over the course of the disease. In the early stage, symptoms are usually mild and only local swelling at the infected areas occurs. As the condition progresses, chronic symptoms, such as intestine malformation and heart disease, occur. If left untreated, American trypanosomiasis can be fatal.

Clinical Features

American trypanosomiasis occurs in two stages - acute and chronic stage. Symptoms of the acute stage occur shortly when infected. A local skin nodule can appear at the infected site. When the infected area Is conjunctival mucous membranes, the sufferer may develop conjunctivitis, periorbital edema and "preauricular lymphadenitis". The symptoms shown during the acute stages include anorexia, myocarditis, lymphadenopathy, fever and mild hepatosplenomegaly. Some cases of acute American trypanosomiasis resolve within a period of 2 or 3 months. However, this can still reappear after several years. In the chronic stage of American trypanosomiasis, symptoms may not occur for years or decades after transmission of the disease. However, it could affect the heart, digestive system and nervous system. Severe cases may result in dementia, neurological disorders, damages to the heart muscles, weight loss and dilation of the digestive tract.

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