Chagas disease causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Yazan Daaboul, M.D.


Chagas disease (American tryponosomiasis) is a human tropical parasitic disease usually caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a flagellate protozoa.


Etiologic Agent


  • Chagas disease usually has a vector-borne transmission. Triatomine insects, the Riduvid (kissing/assassin) bugs, suck blood from an infected individual and are subsequently infected themselves.
  • The insects carry the pathogen in their feces and urine. Human infection with T. cruzi occurs following exposure to feces/urine of infected insects. The pathogen typically enters the host either through a wound induced by the host's scratching following the insect bite or through the conjunctival mucus membranes.
  • Triatomine insects may also be referred to as benchuca, vinchuca, kissing bug, chipo, chupança and barbeiro. Other insect species that may be vectors for T. cruzi are insects of the families Rhodnius and Panstrongylus
  • Other modes of transmission include organ transplantation, blood transfusions, vertical transmission, breast milk, and oral transmission following ingestion of infected foods.[1][2][3][4]

Life Cycle

The following figure illustrates the life cycle of T. cruzi, the causative pathogen of Chagas disease.

Life cycle of Trypanosoma cruzi. - Source:



  1. Santos Ferreira C, Amato Neto V, Gakiya E, et al. "Microwave treatment of human milk to prevent transmission of Chagas disease." Rev Inst Med Trop São Paulo. 2003 Jan-Feb;45(1):41-2. PMID 12751321
  2. WHO. Chagas. Accessed 24 September 2006.
  3. da Silva Valente S, de Costa Valente V, Neto H. "Considerations on the epidemiology and transmission of Chagas disease in the Brazilian Amazon." Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 94 Suppl 1: 395-8. PMID 10677763
  4. UK Health Protection Agency (HPA).Chagas’ disease (American trypanosomiasis) in southern Brazil. Accessed 24 September 2006.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Public Health Image Library (PHIL)".

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