Prognostic impact of Chagas disease in the United States

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Abstract

A prior publication from our group reported the fact that Chagas disease is underdiagnosed. This review will summarize several aspects of Chagas disease in the United States including modes of transmission, which will demonstrate that clinicians should be more aware of the disease and its consequences.

Trypanosoma cruzi is present in many animal species spread throughout most of the United States. Chagas disease also reaches the North American continent through immigration, making it more frequent than expected. Apart from immigration, non-endemic countries should be aware of transmissions through blood transfusions, organ transplantations, or mother-to-child infections.

In conclusion, it is possible that many chagasic cardiomyopathies are being misdiagnosed as “primary dilated idiopathic cardiomyopathies.” Recognizing that there is an evident threat of Chagas disease present in the United States will allow an increase of clinician's awareness and hence will permit to correctly diagnose and treat this cardiomyopathy. Health authorities should guarantee a generalized screening of T cruzi of blood donors, before organ donations, and of pregnant women who were born or have lived in endemic areas.

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