World Chagas Disease Day celebrated annually on April 14, calls attention to the Chagas disease, a parasitic disease affecting more than six million people worldwide. As many as 300 babies are born with Chagas disease every year. Unfortunately, these babies remain undiagnosed owing to a lack of awareness. If the disease is not treated, people can die, or suffer a heart attack or stroke. Hence it is crucial to educate everyone about the disease so that appropriate measures are taken by the government, members of the community, and healthcare professionals to curb the spread.
History of World Chagas Disease Day
It was the year 1909 when a physician, Carlos Chagas, discovered the Chagas disease in a two-year-old girl called Berenice. From thereon began the journey toward discovering symptoms of the disease, its effects, and how it can be cured. These efforts greatly reduced the spread of the disease. But even though the risk of transmission has decreased, we have a long way to go before the disease is completely eradicated from the world.
To help researchers and doctors fight this disease, World Chagas Disease Day was established in May 2019 and celebrated for the first time in 2020. According to Dr. Marcos Espinal — Director of Communicable Diseases and Environmental Determinants of Health at the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) — this day is important because it raises awareness about the Chagas disease and calls for actions required to prevent it. The holiday emphasizes the detection of the disease, its treatment, and devising solutions to stop transmission.
Chagas disease, also known as a ‘silent disease,’ is endemic in 21 countries. It is known to affect the poor because they lack proper healthcare and sanitation. The parasitic disease is caused by the microorganism ‘Trypanosoma Cruzi’ and can be transmitted to humans through insects. The infection is spread by blood transfusion, organ transplantation, contaminated food, and contact with feces/urine of infected triatomine bugs. The bugs that cause the disease usually become active at night and hide in the cracked walls of houses, animal pens, and warehouses.
World Chagas Disease Day timeline
Chagas disease is found in Peru and Chile.
Clinical aspects of the disease are determined.
World Health Organization recognizes Chagas as a neglected tropical disease.
Experimental vaccines are tested on animals.
World Chagas Disease Day FAQs
What are the symptoms of Chagas disease in humans?
The symptoms may include swelling in areas of the body where the insect bite occurred.
How fatal is Chagas disease?
If untreated, the infection can be life-threatening.
Where is Chagas disease most common?
It is commonly found in the Americas.
How to Observe World Chagas Disease Day
Find out all you can about the disease
To celebrate the day, find out all about the Chagas disease. Learn about its symptoms, its cause, and its cure. The more you know, the more you can help others.
Spread the information
Now that you’re informed, spread the knowledge. Teach others what you have learned.
Donate to the cause
To help eliminate Chagas disease for good, donate to a charity involved in the fight against its spread. Researchers use the funds from your donation to create vaccines against the ailment and develop medication that can help save lives.
5 Facts About Chagas Disease
It is known as a ‘silent killer’
The disease has this name because it can remain dormant in the bloodstream for decades.
How it is contracted
Transmission is mostly due to a bite from the triatomine bug, or ‘kissing bug.’
Millions have this disease
There are approximately six to seven million people worldwide who are infected.
Problems that develop in infected people
About 30% of the infected develop cardiovascular diseases.
It shares a name with a doctor
The disease’s eponym came from the Brazilian physician Carlos Chagas, who discovered it in 1909.
Why World Chagas Disease Day is Important
Spreads awareness about a neglected disease
Millions of people worldwide suffer from Chagas disease, yet not that many know about it. Awareness is key in our struggle to stop the spread.
Celebrates efforts made to eliminate the disease
On this day, people are sensitized about the Chagas disease and efforts being made to eliminate it. With this, people can detect the disease at an earlier stage and get help.
Nudges experts to find solutions
Scientists and doctors, on this day, are further persuaded to figure out how the disease can be eliminated. A vaccine needs to be developed for Chagas disease.
World Chagas Disease Day dates