Chagas disease

Project portfolio

Research Catalyse development Guide use and policy Accelerate Access
Technologies Tests for congenital Chagas Test-of-cure
Enabling Environment TPPs & NTD need prioritization Advocacy with community and health personnel

Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, and it is endemic in 21 Latin American countries. Due to global migration of infected people, it is also present in non-endemic areas (e.g. Europe, Australia, and Canada). An estimated 6 to 8 million people are infected worldwide.

Chagas disease can be transmitted by several routes. In recent years, chagas disease control campaigns in Latin America have reduced vector transmission, but congenital transmission, passage from an infected mother to her newborn, remains a concern.

Chagas disease can be treated. The younger the patient and the more recent the infection, the more effective the treatment: improving access to diagnosis improves treatment prognosis.

Chagas disease presents itself in 2 phases:

  • The acute phase, which lasts for approximately two months following infection and often goes undiagnosed. Amongst children approximately 10 per cent of acute infections are fatal.
  • The chronic phase, during which parasites migrate to the heart and digestive muscles, lasts an indeterminate amount of time and patients can be largely asymptomatic. Eventually, organ damage manifests in cardiac and digestive disorders in 10 to 30% of patients. Most frequently, deterioration of these organs causes death.
The diagnostic landscape
FIND's strategic approach

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Tests for Congenital Chagas

For congenital Chagas disease, the best time for parasitological or molecular diagnosis is during the first few weeks after birth when parasitaemia is often high. This is difficult, however, due to limitations in infrastructure and resources.

Antigen detection in urine

A consultative meeting of experts on Chagas disease was held at FIND in December 2013 to define the unmet needs for diagnosis of this disease and guide FIND’s strategy on Chagas disease diagnostics.

The diagnostic needs for Chagas Disease is being reviewed in collaboration with Coalition Chagas and TPPs will be developed in consultation with international experts.