AMERICAN TRYPANOSOMIASIS & TREATMENT
Definition: What is "American trypanosomiasis"?
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 & 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.
Symptoms & Signs
The symptoms of American trypanosomiasis vary over the course of the disease. In the early stage, symptoms are usually mild & only local swelling at the infected areas occurs. As the condition progresses, chronic symptoms, such as intestine malformation & heart disease, occur. If left untreated, American trypanosomiasis can be fatal.
Treatment: How to Treat "American trypanosomiasis"?
Available drugs for American trypanosomiasis are usually unsatisfactory. The current drugs available are usually ineffective & 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 & 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.
Diagnosis of American trypanosomiasis can be achieved through microscopic examination, isolation of the agent, immunodiagnostic tests & through Molecular Biology techniques.
American trypanosomiasis occurs in two stages - acute & 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 & "preauricular lymphadenitis". The symptoms shown during the acute stages include anorexia, myocarditis, lymphadenopathy, fever & 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 & nervous system. Severe cases may result in dementia, neurological disorders, damages to the heart muscles, weight loss & dilation of the digestive tract.