As the most expensive World Cup ever is set to begin in Brazil, a “yellow card” warning must be raised about one of Latin America’s most serious public health threats: Almost 6 million of the most vulnerable people living in the nine participating Latin American countries today do not receive treatment for their most debilitating neglected tropical disease.
Chagas disease is a leading cause of severe and life-threatening heart disease of the extreme poor in the Americas and gradually is becoming a disease that affects all social classes around the world. It is caused by a microscopic parasite known as a trypanosome that can be transmitted to humans when they are bitten by blood-feeding “kissing bugs” at night. Trypanosomes have the ability to invade human hearts and cause severe cardiac damage.
The disease affects mainly people who live in poverty, mostly because their poor-quality houses allow the “kissing bug” vector to thrive in the cracks and crevices of mud, brick and thatch. Throughout South and Central America it strikes those who live in squalor often not far from nearby areas of great wealth. Read the rest of the article here