Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and president of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, recently co-authored a first-of-its-kind study that measured the health and economic impact of Chagas disease, in hopes of raising awareness in the U.S..
Dr. Hotez’ report highlights how Chagas disease, or as some people call it, the “AIDS of the Americas,” is caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, transmitted by a blood-sucking kissing bug commonly found in animal pens and poor housing. The parasites multiply within cells of the body. Infected cells burst, releasing parasites into the bloodstream. While the acute form of the disease is oftentimes nothing to worry about, if the parasite is not completely eliminated, the chronic form’s manifestations can be devastating and fatal.
In this study, it was estimated that the global burden of Chagas disease amounts to about $7 billion a year, with the American economy alone spending $900 million.
According to a recent press release:
“We now have more evidence that Chagas disease is more than just a burden on human health in some of the poorest countries. All around the world, Chagas disease has a huge economic impact,” said Dr. Hotez. “This new data should help inform policy decisions that will prioritize Chagas disease on research, policy and development agendas. This should include support for developing new vaccines for Chagas disease.”
In addition to Dr. Peter Hotez’s efforts, which he hopes will lead to increased Governmental funding into research and treatment of Chagas, researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston are getting closer to the development of a vaccine candidate against Chagas disease. Read more about it here.
Read our Peter Hotez info page at BioNews Texas
Be sure to check out the info page on Chagas Disease at BioNews Texas also!