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Running head: THE KISSING BUG 1 Chagas Disease Claudia Puente Jimmy Carter ECHS, Biology 1307
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CHAGAS DISEASE 2 The Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is caused by infection with the protozoan parasite Typanosoma cruzi. The organism T. cruzi and infection in humans were first described in 1909, by the Brazilian physician Carlos R. J. Chagas. The Chagas disease began millions of years ago as an enzootic disease of wild animals, which still persists in enzootic areas like the Amazon region. The disease started to be transmitted accidentally to man as an anthropozoonois. Because of forest clearance for extensive agriculture, triatomines that were unable to feed because of the displacement of wild animals started to colonize areas around and within human homes. They have become adapted to this new niche, feeding on human and domestic animals’ blood as a zoonosis. Trypanosoma cruzi have existed in nature for millions of years. The primitive trypanosomes were monogenean parasites of insects that were not bloodsuckers. When the trypanosomes acquired the habit if blood sucking, they underwent morphological and functional changes such that they developed undulating membranes and a flagella to circulate in the blood of vertebrates (Hoare 1972). It is estimated that 15 to 16 million people are infected with T. cruzi in Latin America, and 75 to 90 million people are exposed to infection. Chagas infection,which was initially a wild enzootic disease, was transformed into an anthropozoonosis when man invaded the wild ecotope and occupied the physical space by clearing forests, displacing wild animals, and constructing houses and outhouses that the triatomines could easily adapt to. Some wild animals like the opossum, one of the longest known reservoirs of T. cruzi, may have an important role in the epidemiology of Chagas infection, since this mammal circulates from the wild environment to areas around homes and even into homes in search of food. These animals not only carry the trypomastigote form of T. cruzi in their bloodstream but also house all forms of the parasite in their scent
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CHAGAS DISEASE 3 glands, and eliminate it from there (Deane et al. 1984). For human Chagas infection to occur under natural conditions between man and infected triatomines. Series of variables
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