Chagas: the Zika-like disease you don’t know

Chagas is the third most common parasitic disease in the world, but most American doctors don’t know to look for it in the United States because it has been thought of as a disease that only happens in other places. The consequence are dire. For every 1 in 3 people who are infected, Chagas disease turns the heart into a kind of time bomb, and even thirty years after infection the person can start developing heart failure.  Although it’s a disease mainly found in Latin America, the CDC estimates that almost 300,000 people are infected in the U.S. alone.

I’ve been talking about Chagas since I was five years old and my auntie from Colombia was diagnosed with the disease. Recently, I started reporting and writing about the disease and the public health response. You can read about what I’ve been finding below:

MSNBC had me on the Melissa Harris-Perry show to talk about Chagas and also big pharmaceuticals.

Guernica magazine published my feature on the only clinic in the country devoted to treating patients with the disease.

Sen. Bernie Sanders called my story in the Atlantic on Chagas and racial health disparities a “must read.” You can find the story here.

I wrote for The Altantic about why Northern Virginia might be a kind of ground zero in the U.S. for Chagas—and how one patient and cardiologist have teamed up to change that.

Before a doctor in Brazil officially discovered Chagas in 1909, several media outlets in the U.S. reported the stories of people here being assaulted by the so-called kissing bugs.

 

 

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