Houston – central to Chagas epidemic in North America

Baylor College of Medicine Cardiovascular Research Instute Study

Chagas’ disease (Trypanosoma cruzi infection) is increasing in recognition as an important emerging infectious disease and cause of severe heart disease in the United States. Houston is a major gateway city in the Americas and projected to be central to the emerging Chagas epidemic in North America.

Screening of blood donors in the greater Houston area for T. cruzi began in 2007. This study aimed to describe any cardiac abnormalities among Chagas (T. cruzi positive) blood donors using a cross-sectional study design.

Results

  • 66% (20/30) of Blood Donors had Two or More Positive Tests
  • 40% (8/20) had a related abnormal Electrocardiogram finding
  • 40% (8/20) were suspected locally acquired cases
  • 63% (5/8) locally acquired cases had cardiac abnormalities

 Conclusions

  • T. cruzi infection can cause cardiac manifestations even in persons without traditional risk factors
  • Blood donor screening is an effective tool for identifying locally acquired Chagas cases
  • Rural areas seem to be associated with increased risk for Chagas disease

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