World Chagas Disease Day Date in the current year: April 14, 2024

World Chagas Disease Day World Chagas Disease Day is a United Nations observance held annually on April 14. Initiated by the International Federation of Associations of People Affected by Chagas Disease and endorsed by the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the World Health Organization), it was first observed on April 14, 2020.

Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) is a tropical disease caused by parasitic euglenoids spread by the so-called kissing bugs, also known as conenose bugs or vampire bugs (Triatominae). In addition to bug bites, the disease may be spread through eating contaminated food, blood transfusion, organ transplantation, and from a mother to her baby (vertical transmission).

Chagas disease is endemic to continental Latin America; however, due to international migration, it has spread to non-endemic countries, such as the United States, Canada, multiple European and some Western Pacific countries.

The disease was named after Carlos Chagas, a Brazilian physician who discovered and described the disease in 1909. His detailed description included the pathogen, vector, host, clinical manifestation, and epidemiology of the disease. In addition, Chagas discovered the parasitic fungal genus Pneumocystis in the lungs of his experimental animals infected with the parasite.

The main danger of Chagas disease is that it is frequently asymptomatic. The early stage is typically characterized by mild symptoms (swelling at the site of the bite, headache, swollen lymph nodes, fever, muscular ache), and the chronic phase is usually asymptomatic. However, the lack of symptoms does not mean that Chagas disease is harmless.

Complications may develop decades after the initial illness; according to statistics, heart disease develops in up to 45% of infected people, up to 21% of people may experience digestive complications, and up to 10% people suffer from nerve damage caused by the infection.

Chagas disease is sometimes referred to as a “silent and silenced disease”, not only because of its slow progress and lack of symptoms but also because it affects mainly poor populations in developing countries who have no access to proper healthcare or political voice.

According to the World Health Organizations, around 6–7 million people are affected by Chafas disease; most of them are low-income people who don’t even know that they are infected. There is no approved vaccine against Chagas disease, and the only antipatasitic drug available in Latin America and approved for the treatment of Chagas disease is nifurtimox (Lampit).

World Chagas Disease Day was established to raise awareness of Chagas disease and other neglected tropical diseases — tropical infections common in low-income populations in developing regions of Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Many of them are curable if treated early, and the treatments can be relatively inexpensive, but most people with these diseases have no access to healthcare.

Therefore, the primary goal of World Chagas Disease Day is to raise public awareness of the resources needed to prevent and control Chagas disease and other neglected tropical diseases.

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