A new report in a medical journal calls it “the most important infection you’ve never heard of.” Chagas Disease has infected about 10 million people, mostly in poverty stricken areas of Latin America, killing about 20000 of its victims each year. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine say it could be “the new AIDS.” Transmitted by bites from an insect known as “the kissing bug”, the parasitic infection can live in the human body for decades with no significant symptoms until it causes enlarged heart and intestines that can then burst. It’s treatable if caught early, but there’s no cure for the 20 percent of victims who go on to develop the late stages of the disease. Some experts argue that it’s premature to compare Chagas to the AIDS epidemic, which still claims nearly 2 million lives a year worldwide. But as word spreads about the disease, you can bet that “kissing bug” will show up in more and more Google searches.
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