Health officials in AM are reporting an outbreak of Chagas disease, in which up to 18 cases may be involved, according to a Globo report (computer translated).

The Triatoma or “kissing” bug. Image/CDC
The Triatoma or “kissing” bug.

It is suspected that the parasitic outbreak may be due to the handling and consumption of acai.

The Mayor of Carauari, Francisco Costa, told local media that the prime suspect for the outbreak is the consumption of acai. According to the mayor, the cases involve people aged 20 to 65 years. One of the patients is the same family of one of the affected by the outbreak we had in 2010.

According to The Ministry of Health (Susam),  the number of registered cases is above normal and in a short period of time, points to oral transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi (the causative protozoan disease) via the consumption of food contaminated with feces the vector.

The surveillance teams are in the field doing inspections in all establishments that process acai, checking the conditions of production and trying to identify non-conformities that need to be corrected,” the CEO of the Foundation for Health Surveillance-AM, Albuquerque Bernardino  said in a statement.

According to Ministry of Health data from Brazil in 2000, 2001 and 2004 were reported a total of 57 cases of acute Chagas disease associated with oral transmission. In the period from 2005 to 2007, were 301 cases.

Outbreaks of acute Chagas disease related to ingestion of contaminated food (sugar cane juice, acai, bacaba, among others) and isolated cases by extradomiciliary vector transmission is being seen especially in the Amazon. From 2000 to 2011, there were more than 1,200 cases, 70% by oral transmission, 7% for vector-borne and 22% without identifying the mode of transmission.