Chagas Disease

kissing-bugs

What is Chagas disease?
• Chagas disease, also called American trypanosomiais, can cause serious heart and stomach illnesses.
• Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi.
• It is transmitted to animals and humans by triatomine bugs also known as “kissing bugs,” “reduviid bugs”,  “assassin bugs,” “benchuca,” “vinchuca,” “chinche,” or “barbeiro.
• Kissing bugs are blood sucking insects. 

If you have seen any triatomine in or around your property in Houston/Harris County, please contact Harris County Public Health. 

For more information contact:

Harris County Public Health
Mosquito Control Division
3330 Old Spanish Trail, Bldg. D
Houston, TX 77021

Phone: 713.440.4800

For more information on tick-borne disease visit: www.cdc.gov/ticks

Where is Chagas found?
Mexico, Central and South America, and southern United States.

What are the symptoms of Chagas?
People may begin showing symptoms 5-14 days after exposure to infected kissing bug feces and 20-40 days after infection by blood transfusion.

ACUTE PHASE

  • Most people are asymptomatic during the acute phase which can last for a few weeks or months.
  • Symptoms are variable and include fever, headache, loss of appetite, joint pain, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, enlarged lymph nodes, swelling at eyelid or bite mark, liver enlargement and spleen enlargement. In most cases, symptoms resolve within weeks to months without treatment.

If left untreated, the infection can transition to CHRONIC PHASE.

  • The chronic phase may remain silent for years or even for life.
  • Symptoms are cardiac (cardiomyopathy, heart failure, cardiac arrest) and intestinal complications (megaesophagus or megacolon).

How can I prevent infection?
To decrease your risk of Chagas disease:

  • Eliminate cracks in walls or buildings and apply EPA-approved and registered insecticides in and around homes.
  • Ensure house pets are indoors at night, since triatomine bugs feed primarily at night.
  • Do not allow dogs and cats to eat tissues from potentially infected wild animals.
  • When visiting areas where Chagas disease is common, sleep inside a screened area, under a permethrin-impregnated net or in an air-conditioned room.
Acute Phase

Chronic Phase
If left untreated

  • Most people are asymptomatic during the acute phase which can last for a few weeks or months.
  • Symptoms are variable and include fever, headache, loss of appetite, joint pain, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, enlarged lymph nodes, swelling at eyelid or bite mark, liver enlargement and spleen enlargement. In most cases, symptoms resolve within weeks to months without treatment.
  • The chronic phase may remain silent for years or even for life.
  • Symptoms are cardiac (cardiomyopathy, heart failure, cardiac arrest) and intestinal complications (megaesophagus or megacolon).