New Approach Targets Tough Parasitic Illness

Insect-borne disease infects 11M annually
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 27, 2007 1:15 PM CST
A microscopic view of Chagas disease.   (Center For Disease Control)
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(Newser) – A new way to test for Chagas disease offers hope for combating the insect-borne ailment, which can otherwise go unnoticed for years, Reuters reports. The new method involves screening children in small areas where exterminators find the most disease-carrying bugs instead of having to test bigger populations. The disease infects 11 million people each year, mostly in Latin America.

Chagas disease spreads through single-celled parasites transmitted to humans by the “assassin bug.” After spraying houses to ward off the insect, exterminators can relay information to health workers, who can screen children and provide the infected with medicine. The strategy isn’t foolproof, but “you are going to get as many kids as you can this way,” said the head of the research team.