An outbreak of the parasitic infection, Chagas disease, has sickened a dozen people of the same family in the La Macarena municipality Febres Cordero, Merida state, in the Andean region of Venezuela, according to a report (computer translated).

Chagas disease
Kissing bugs are the vector of Chagas disease
Image/Rachel Curtis–Hamer Labs

Denis Gómez, director of the Health Corporation (Corposalud) in Mérida said that they have been treated by medical teams in the state. Three deaths ( 2 infants and 1 adult) were reported as the doctor noted: “The patient came to hospital in a critical phase, and despite the efforts of the doctors, died. Unfortunately came late at health centers”.

He said the three patients received self-medication for more than eight days and when it was realized it wasn’t working they arrived for treatment.

A team led by Corposalud supported by the Sanitary Control, Bureau of Environmental Health and the regional epidemiology services, moved to the town located some 60 kilometers northeast of Mérida capital to establish the epidemiological fence and evaluate potential causes of the outbreak.

Corposalud regent said preliminary case reports indicate poor hygiene conditions for family food handling and disposal, among other possible causes.

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. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page.

Chagas disease slideshow

T. cruzi parasites are mainly transmitted by the infected feces of blood-sucking triatomine bugs. In addition, theparasite 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.

Related story: Chagas disease in North America