The Team Hunting for Chagas Disease in the U.S.

Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease also known as American trypanosomiasis, used to be found only in Latin America. But with migration, climate change, and more interaction between people and wild animals, the demographics have changed. It’s now estimated that more than 300,000 people in the U.S. have been infected.

Dr. Norm Beatty

Unfortunately, most of them are unaware of their infection. Chagas disease is often called a “silent disease” because most patients do not have symptoms until the trypanosome has caused irreversible damage. It is vital to detect the infection early enough, while it is still treatable.

On the fifth World Chagas Day, April 14th, 2024, Dr Jérôme Salomon, Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage/Communicable and Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO, said, “Strengthening global surveillance for Chagas disease over the next few years is an essential step towards understanding its real burden and in taking appropriate measures to tackle its neglect.”

A group of scientists and doctors, led by Dr. Norm Beatty at the University of Florida in Gainesville, are trying to end the neglect of this parasitic killer. The following film documents the work they are doing to find the bugs and educate the public.

Shot by award-winning photojournalist Neil Brandvold and edited by Moronga Films, based in Oaxaca, Mexico, this short film shows how neglected diseases all over the world can be fueled by climate change, migration, and increased human-animal interaction.

Learn more about Chagas disease and its treatment from DNDi, a group looking for new drugs to treat this and many other neglected tropical diseases.

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