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Researchers Turn Their Attention To Chagas Disease As Developed Countries See Rise In Infection Rates

Chagas disease, a historically neglected tropical disease that the WHO estimates affects about 10 million people worldwide, is drawing increased attention as infection by the parasite spreads from Latin America to developed countries, such as Spain and the United States, Science reports. “The main reason for this rise isn’t the spread of insects carrying Trypanosoma cruzi but rather emigration from Latin America of large numbers of people who are already infected,” the magazine writes.

“[T]he number of infected people living in the United States remains unknown, says medical epidemiologist Caryn Bern of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta,” but “the rising incidence of Chagas disease has already required action by health officials in the United States and other developed nations,” Science notes (Leslie, 8/19). In a related article, the magazine reports that “after years of stagnation, research into new treatments for Chagas disease has picked up” as researchers at the University of California “have received permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to launch a phase I safety trial of” a new compound, “dubbed K777, in the United States next year” (Leslie, 8/19).