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Chagas Disease_ Poverty, Immigration, and the New HIV_AIDS.720p

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Published on May 31, 2012

Chagas disease, a tropical illness that is transmitted by biting insects, may pose a major unseen threat to poor populations in the Americas and Europe, according to a report published May 29 in the journal PLoS: http://tinyurl.com/85zt8ku

It carries a disease called Chagas - an infection that has no known cure and is ravaging poor communities. Because the illness is hard to detect and has a long incubation period, doctors have called it the new AIDs of the Americas.

Dr. Ronald Primas is a specialist in exotic infectious diseases. He says Chagas is worrisome because it can thrive in an immigrant population that can't afford medical care.

Right now more than 8 million people are infected with Chagas in Latin American countries including Bolivia, Mexico, and Columbia. Its symptoms include fever, a swelling in one eye, and digestive problems.

About 300 thousand people in the Unites States have been diagnosed with Chagas - which produces parasites in the bloodstream. Parasites that can find their way to the heart and eventually cause heart failure. For many victims of the disease, by the time heart problems show up - it is generally too late.

If discovered early, Chagas can be treated with an aggressive 3-month application of moderately expensive drugs. But some feel because the disease only affects the poor there is little incentive for drug companies to find alternative treatments or even a cure.

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