Epidemiology of Chagas Disease in the USA: High-Risk Patient Populations for Screening
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Purpose of Review
The goals of this paper are to review the current data on the prevalence of Chagas disease in the USA and to describe the obstacles to expanding screening efforts.
Latin American immigrants appear to be at a significantly higher risk of contracting Chagas disease than are individuals born in the USA, though the risk of autochthonous transmission is likely underestimated. Rates of Chagas disease in the community are variable, and likely depend on the specific makeup of the immigrant community, specifically the country of origin. In patients with cardiac disease, Chagas disease becomes a more likely diagnosis as the degree of cardiac impairment progresses, and up to 19% of immigrants with non-ischemic cardiomyopathy may have this disease. Barriers to screening include lack of awareness, cost of testing, and insufficient access to accurate tests.
Chagas disease is more prevalent than generally thought by the US medical community and is a significant cause of cardiac illness in Latin American immigrants. Efforts to expand access to screening should focus on raising awareness of these data, improving serologic tests for diagnosis, and expanding access to tests.
KeywordsChagas disease Reactivation of Chagas Trypanosoma cruzi Immigrants
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Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
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