At least three Chagas disease cases have been reported from the southernmost municipality of Lábrea in Amazonas state, Brazil, according to a globo.com report (computer translated).
Amazonas Health Surveillance Foundation (FVS-AM) and the Municipal Secretariat of Health of Labrea (Semsa-Lábrea) are investigating the cases to determine if the disease was contracted through the consumption of contaminated acai.
According to information from Semsa-Lábrea, samples of açaí production were collected and analyzed at the Central Public Health Laboratory (Lacen-FVS) to confirm the presence of the vector in the product.
The three patients are all being treated for Chagas on an outpatient basis.
LISTEN: A look at the neglected tropical disease, Chagas disease
According to the World Health Organization(WHO), Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). It is found mainly in endemic areas of 21 Latin American countries.
About 7 million to 8 million people worldwide are estimated to be infected with the parasite.
T. cruzi parasites are mainly transmitted by the infected feces of blood-sucking triatomine bugs, or kissing bugs. In addition, the parasite can be transmitted via food contaminated with T. cruzi through for example the contact with triatomine bug feces, blood transfusions using blood from infected donors, passage from an infected mother to her newborn during pregnancy or childbirth, organ transplants using organs from infected donors and laboratory accidents.
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2013 interview with Dr Peter Hotez, president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute and founding dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine on the Chagas disease situation in North America with Outbreak News This Week Radio show host Robert Herriman:
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