The 1899 United States Kissing Bug Epidemic

Accessing the historical archives that were available online for five different urban newspapers, we searched for newspaper articles that included the key words “kissing bug” and were published between January 1, 1899, and December 31, 1899. What we unearthed was an unexpected “outbreak” of kissing bug assaults that were reported in newspapers across the nation. Ten years before Carlos Chagas described Chagas disease (in 1909), the US experienced a multi-city hysteria caused by the routine, nightly bites of the “kissing bug” that resulted in numerous hospitalizations and even a few deaths.

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Historical Perspectives on the Epidemiology of Human Chagas Disease in Texas and Recommendations for Enhanced Understanding of Clinical Chagas Disease in the Southern United States

Despite current beliefs that Chagas disease is a recently emerging disease, we report historical references dating as far back as 1935. Both imported cases and autochthonous transmission contribute to the historical disease burden in Texas.

http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0003981

Enfermedad de Chagas: tarjeta amarilla en el Mundial de Fútbol 2014

Mientras el Mundial de Fútbol más costoso de la historia está por comenzar en Brasil, una de las amenazas más graves a la salud pública en América Latina continúa: casi 6 millones de las personas más vulnerables, que viven en los nueve países de la región que participan del torneo, no reciben tratamiento para la enfermedad tropical olvidada más debilitante. Es por esto que una “tarjeta amarilla” debe ser levantada como advertencia.

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Chagas Disease: A 2014 World Cup Yellow Card

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

The CDC’s New Initiative on Parasitic Infections

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a new initiative that targets parasitic diseases in the United States. Coinciding with the publication of a series of articles in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (AJTMH), the new CDC initiative will prioritize five major parasitic diseases — Chagas disease, cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis and trichomoniasis — which are considered neglected because they mainly impact Americans who live in extreme poverty, especially in the southern United States and in degraded urban areas of major U.S. cities. CDC’s renewed commitment to these diseases is extremely welcome, and I especially want to congratulate the dynamic leadership of their Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria including Drs. Monica Parise and Larry Slutsker, who lead these activities.

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