Chagas Tropical Disease — The New AIDS?

Chagas, a tropical disease spread by insects, is causing some fresh concern following an editorial—published earlier this week in a medical journal—that called it “the new AIDS of the Americas.” More than 8 million people have been infected by Chagas, most of them in Latin and Central America. But more than 300,000 live in the United States.

The editorial, published by the Public Library of Science’s Neglected Tropical Diseases, said the spread of the disease is reminiscent of the early years of HIV. Both diseases disproportionately affect people living in poverty, both are chronic conditions requiring prolonged, expensive treatment, and as with patients in the first two decades of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, “most patients with Chagas disease do not have access to health care facilities.” Unlike HIV, Chagas is not a sexually-transmitted disease; it’s “caused by parasites transmitted to humans by blood-sucking insects,” as the New York Times put it.


“It likes to bite you on the face,” CNN reported. “It’s called the kissing bug. When it ingests your blood, it excretes the parasite at the same time. When you wake up and scratch the itch, the parasite moves into the wound and you’re infected.”

Chagas, also known as American trypanosomiasis, kills about 20,000 people per year, the journal said. And while just 20 percent of those infected with Chagas develop a life-threatening form of the disease, Chagas is “hard or impossible to cure,” the Times reports.

“The problem is once the heart symptoms start, which is the most dreaded complication—the Chagas cardiomyopathy—the medicines no longer work very well,” Dr. Peter Hotez, a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the editorial’s authors, told CNN. “Problem No. 2: the medicines are extremely toxic.”

What do you think should the American government do to curb the spread of this disease? Share your opinions with us!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: The New York Times

Doctors to Operate on Boy With Fetus in Stomach

Doctors in Peru said they would operate today on a 3-year-old boy to remove the body of his would-be twin.

Isbac Pacunda has the body of his twin inside his stomach – bones, eyes and even hair on the cranium. Dr. Carlos Astocondor, a plastic surgeon at the Las Mercedes Hospital in Chiclayo, told the Associated Press that the partially formed fetus weighs about a pound and a half and is 9  inches long. He and a team of 12 doctors will surgically remove the tissue from the boy’s stomach today.

The condition is called fetus-in-fetu and happens in about one  out of every 500,000 live births, Astocondor said. The case spotlights the biological precision needed for twins to develop in the womb. Identical twins form when an egg splits in half right after fertilization. If the egg fails to fully separate, conjoined twins will form, sharing some portion of their bodies.


Dr. Jonathan Fanaroff, a neonatologist at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told ABC News that some conjoined twins can live as “parasites,” relying on the body of the other for a blood supply and organ function. But for fetus-in-fetu, the body of one twin envelops the other during development.

Surgery to separate live, conjoined twins is extremely difficult and fraught with ethical complications. Fanaroff said the removal of Pacunda’s twin will likely be much easier.

 

Source: Digg

Image: ABC News