Triatomine bugs bite the victim near the face at night. They suck their blood.
After the bite, these bugs defecate on the victim.
The bug’s feces contains Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi)
T. cruzi enters the victim’s blood via the mucous membrane, skin break, or when the victim scratches the bite area and unknowingly pushes the feces in the wound.
During the acute phase (days to months) the victim has no symptoms or mild flu-like symptoms (fever, aches, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.)
Liver, spleen, and lymph nodes might be mildly enlarged. A chagoma (swelling) at the site of the bite may develop.
Less than 5% of the young patients may die due to severe inflammation, infections of the heart muscle (myocarditis) or brain (meningoencephalitis.)
This phase can last for decades. About 20%-30% of patients develop cardiac or gastrointestinal complications. Enlarged heart, arrhythmias, heart failure, can occur. Megaesophagus and megacolon may develop making it difficult to eat or poop.
- Parasite in patient’s blood smear.
- IgM in the acute phase.
Benznidazole is FDA approved for children 2-12 years of age.
Nifurtimox, not FDA approved, but available under the investigational protocol.
Symptomatic treatment may be needed as well.