NWP
Ugh...If this bug bites your face, you can contract this disease!
by NWP
February 10, 2013 at 9:14 PM

Obscure Chagas' Disease Takes Costly Toll

Don't let the name fool you. The kissing bug, or Rhodnius prolixus, transmits the Chagas parasite when it bites someone's face.

Erwin Huebner, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada/Wikimedia.org

There's been a lot of talk recently about an old malady that seems to be on the rise.

It's called Chagas' disease, and it's transmitted by the so-called kissing bug, a bloodsucking insect that bites your face and lips.

Health economists have now put a price tag on the global cost of Chagas, and the illness is taking a heavier toll than previously appreciated.

Chagas costs the world about $7 billion annually, says the analysis just published in the The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

That's more than the global cost of cervical cancer or cholera.

Most Chagas cases occur in Latin America, but the disease is spreading northward. About 300,000 Americans, mostly Texans, are thought to carry the Chagas parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi.

Those U.S. infections could be running about $800 million each year in health care costs and lost productivity, the study estimates.

Of course, all these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt.

They're rough approximates based on computer models for how much it costs to treat Chagas and losses incurred when sick people can't work or die prematurely — two things that are really tough to nail down.

"The main thing is to view the order of magnitude," Dr. Bruce Lee, of the University of Pittsburgh, tells Shots. "The numbers are based on some assumptions, but we tried to be conservative and underestimate the costs."

These high costs could offer some incentive to pay more attention to Chagas, Dr. Peter Hotez, who also worked on the study, tells Shots.

Hotez thinks of Chagas as "the new HIV of the Americas": They're both chronic conditions that require long-term treatment, and they get transmitted through blood transfusions and during pregnancy, he says.

But the parallels don't go much further than that. If caught early, Chagas is curable, and many people infected show few or no symptoms.

Chagas does cause serious heart problems in about 20 to 30 percent of cases. "Once the heart symptoms appear, they often are irreversible," Hotez says. "The drugs are toxic, and they don't work very well."

Kissing bugs are widespread in Texas, he says, and a high percentage of them carry T. cruzi.

But right now, doctors in the U.S. aren't looking for Chagas. So it's tough to say just how common it is. "There's an astonishing lack of awareness with doctors about this disease," Hotez says. "They misdiagnose it as a form of cardiomyopathy. Unless you specifically look for it, you won't find it."

Replies

  • Euphoric
    February 10, 2013 at 9:15 PM

     Eek

  • la_bella_vita
    February 10, 2013 at 9:17 PM

     Eek is right

  • AdrianneHill
    February 10, 2013 at 9:29 PM
    As soon as I saw that thread title, I knew it was about the damn kissing bug. I don't remember when I first heard about it but I've been terrified for years...decades by now really. Still sleep with my arm over my face like a weirdo. Crazy creepy nasty shit right there.
  • neveensaffron
    February 10, 2013 at 9:34 PM
    I FUCKING KNEW IT!!!!!
    I have a severe bug phobia. Not oh I just think bugs are icky. I mean I will scream, run and leave the area while having a true panic attack with a real asthma attack. I will even ditch my own child in favor of running.

    These creatures are in Oklahoma too. I've always been terrified of these creepy monsters and no one here knows what they are.
    I see them in my backyard too.

    I knew these fuckers were evil!!!
    Oh my god I need a cigarette now. I hate quitting. I'm seriously considering smoking. Fuck
  • steffielou_who
    February 10, 2013 at 9:36 PM
    Yikes! That is scary! I have a bug that looks like that here in wv, only difference is its red, where the kissing bug is brown!
  • neveensaffron
    February 10, 2013 at 9:36 PM
    Imagine having ON YOUR PHYSICAL BACK DOOR TRYING TO GET IN YOUR HOME!!!!!!!

    I never type in all caps either.


    Quoting AdrianneHill:

    As soon as I saw that thread title, I knew it was about the damn kissing bug. I don't remember when I first heard about it but I've been terrified for years...decades by now really. Still sleep with my arm over my face like a weirdo. Crazy creepy nasty shit right there.

  • Peanutx3
    February 10, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    Icky!  thank god I live in the Pacific Northwest where these creatures do not exist.  

  • LauraKW
    by LauraKW
    February 10, 2013 at 9:51 PM
    *calling the exterminator in the morning*
  • desertlvn
    February 10, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    I wonder what the symptoms are?

  • Mommy_of_Riley
    Jes
    February 10, 2013 at 9:55 PM
    EWWW!!!!

    Where do these critters live?!?!