Chagas Disease

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What is the Impact of Chagas Disease on the Productivity in Latin America?
Chagas disease is an endemic that affects Latin America and is the world’s leading cause of heart disease. To understand the impact of Chagas Disease it is necessary to understand the characteristics of this disease. The Chagas disease spreads through the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi by blood transfusion or by a bite of the reduviid bug also named “kissing bug” for its tendency to attack around the lips of humans. The health risk of being infected is associated with poor living conditions of overcrowded housing made of local natural materials such as wood, mud, and straw, these materials make the perfect breeding ground for the bug. About 100 million people are at risk
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With more than sixty percent of the population presently settled in urban areas, infected individuals are migrating to the USA and Europe. An estimated 100,000 infected individuals living in the USA immigrated from Mexico and Central America. The infectious risk that these individuals pose to the non-endemic areas is mainly through blood transfusion, as the infected individuals donate blood unaware that they are infected.
Productivity Impact of Chagas Disease
Around 752,000 working days per year are lost due to the infections caused by Chagas disease in just the seven South American countries. A study of absenteeism in Brazil estimated loses caused by this disease of at least $5.6 million per year. In addition, the medical costs for treatment of infected individuals add up to this cost by several times this amount. Untreated, the disease results in disability affecting the households as the infected individuals become a financial burden reducing the quality of life of the whole family.
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In addition, people affected by the disease see a decrease on their living standards placing a burden in the whole family. Strategies to eradicate the disease implemented by the WHO have been effective. However, additional strategies are available to improve the eradication of the disease. Investment to improve housing and to conduct drug research for treatment would not only improve productivity, but will also improve the quality of life for people. Lastly, countries affected by the disease should implement routine screening for Chagas in their blood banks in order to prevent further
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