- Hello Bert,
- Thank you for the article below. Given the fact that
illegals from Chagas infected regions are flooding into the US every day,
I think that we are going to see a full scale public health crisis in many
areas of the US within 7-10 years.
- Not only will public health officials become overwhelmed
but hospitals will be forced share in this nightmare. I do not see how
hospitals and the taxpayers are going to pay the bills of a Chagas-infected
population. South and Central America are experiencing this very health
- Illegals are flocking into the US as 'workers.' There
comes a time when a Chagas-infected person becomes unable to work. They
then become in need of expensive, permanent medical care. The George
Bush 'administration' is so shallow that it hasn't even begun to calculate
the price of this 'CHEAP'(?) labor. Those who go onto the chronic stage
of Chagas and the heart or colon problems will be unable to work and in
need of assistance.
- The local US kissing bug species have now demonstrated
their ability to carry and vector the T. Cruzi parasite. These triatoma
bugs have colonized homes and spread the parasite to local small animal
populations and, as we saw in Louisiana, infected a 74 year old victim
in her own home in New Orleans. Dogs, armidillos and other small animals
serve as reservoir for the disease. This fact should have "served
notice" that Chagas is capable of local spreading in the US. Triatoma
bugs can be found in southern to mid latitudes in the US. These bugs can
be found as far north as Maryland. There have been organ recipients who
contracted Chagas from transplants and cases of simple blood transfusion
transmission. Health authorities are not screening blood for Chagas.
- Public health law would allow the government of the US
to close down the border and stop anyone from entering the US from Chagas-infected
regions. It is obvious that the US government is more concerned about
'cheap' labor for corporations and business entities than concern for the
public health of its citizens. Furthermore, US the taxpayers
will, as usual, receive the bill for medical care of Chagas infected, and
the cost for Public health trying to deal with a crisis situation in the
near future, let's say 2012. And what a bill that's going to
- I just don't understand why, when we have a chance to
stop the Chagas spread in the US, WHY are we not closing the borders? Deporting
anyone who is infected with Chagas? This is a matter of the most basic
common sense public health. This could just be the next pandemic and we
have the power to stop it before it really gets rolling.
- Once we allow the genie that is Chagas out of the bottle,
there is NO stopping it. The CDC is misleading the public by calling Chagas
a disease of poverty and poor living conditions. That's a lie. People
from all walks of life and socioeconomic groups throughout Mexico, Central
and South America have contracted Chagas. By telling Americans that the
disease is one of poverty we are being lulled into believing we are immune
to Chagas. Well, kissing bugs can colonize any home.
- In Texas, triatoma bugs were found living under patio
blocks. 24 of 31 triatomas were found positive for T. Cruzi. We have
the vector, we have infected small animals and the vector had colonized
homes within the US. This tells me we have a problem; we have conditions
locally that favor Chagas spread within the US. Why are we allowing an
influx of Chagas-infected people to continue to flood into the US, and
do so ILLEGALLY?
- 2008 Presidential election is not far away. We need
to DEMAND that prospective candidates take a stand on illegal immigration.
If the current candidates won't take a stand than we need to find an anti-illegal
immigration candidate who will.
- In the small community of San Benito, Texas (Figure 1),
after three pet dogs died from Chagas cardiomyopathy, personnel from the
Texas Department of Health, the Cameron County Health Department, Environmental
Health Division, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
inspected the owner's home, garage, and grounds for potential triatomine
insect vectors (Figure 2). Blood was drawn from four dogs and two persons
residing on the property and tested for antibodies to T. cruzi. A second
site approximately 2 miles away was also inspected and blood drawn from
three dogs, one of which had been diagnosed as positive for T. cruzi by
the original veterinarian. A follow-up serologic survey was conducted to
determine the percentage of the stray dogs in Cameron County that would
test positive for Chagas disease antibodies. Once a week, samples from
stray dogs were shipped to CDC for testing. Each sample was issued an identification
number; and information on the animal's location, sex, age, health condition,
and size was recorded. Serum specimens were tested for anti-T. cruzi antibodies
by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) (6,7).
- Ecologic niches and potential geographic distributions
were modeled by using the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-set Prediction (GARP)
(8-10). In general, the procedure focuses on modeling ecologic niches,
the conjunction of ecologic conditions within which a species is able to
maintain populations without immigration. Specifically, GARP relates ecologic
characteristics of known occurrence points to those of points randomly
sampled from the rest of the study region, seeking to develop a series
of decision rules that best summarizes those factors associated with the
species' presence. Recently, this method has been used to study the distribution
of species complex members and vector-reservoir relationships with respect
to Chagas disease (11,12).
- Inspection of the residence where the three dogs lived
indicated a substantial infestation with the triatomine species T. gerstaeckeri
(Figure 3). Triatomines were collected under cement slabs of a backyard
patio adjacent to the house and from a garage located approximately 75
feet from the home (Figure 2). Of 31 live triatomines collected, including
adults of both sexes and immature stages (i.e., two fifth-instar nymphs),
24 contained T. cruzi-like parasites in their hindgut (Figure 4). Cultures
were established from triatomine urine collected from insects that were
fed in the laboratory and placed in 1.5-mL microcentrifuge tubes. Approximately
50 µL of clear urine was injected into Novy, Nicolle, & MacNeal
culture medium (13). The cultures were positive for parasites confirmed
to be T. cruzi, on the basis of morphologic criteria. Inspection of the
second residence failed to indicate a bug infestation; however, the pet
owner recalled frequently observing both rats (Rattus spp.) and opossums
(Didelphis virginiana) on the premises. At the first site, three of the
four dogs tested positive for T. cruzi, with titers ranging from 1:128
to 1:256. Neither of the two persons had positive antibody titers against
T. cruzi. At the second site, only the previously diagnosed dog tested
positive, with a titer of 1:256. The other two dogs tested negative, as
did the pet owner. Serum samples from stray dogs from Cameron County, Texas,
were tested for antiT. cruzi antibodies. Of 375 dogs tested, 28 (7.5%)
were positive by IIF, with titers ranging from 1:32 to 1:512. The sensitivity
of this test in humans is 98.8% (pers. comm., Patricia P. Wilkins, Division
of Parasitic Diseases, CDC). Because of the low specificity of serologic
tests for distinguishing T. cruzi from Leishmania spp., all positive samples
were tested for antibodies to L. donovani. A low level of cross-reactivity
was observed in 17 of the 28 samples. In each case, however, the titer
was 12 dilutions less than the titer to T. cruzi, indicating a primary
response to T. cruzi rather than to Leishmania spp. Ecologic niche models
for T. gerstaeckeri were developed by using GARP, based on published and
unpublished collection records from Mexico and the southwestern United
States. The model predicted a distribution for this species that extends
from central Mexico, through central Texas, the Texas panhandle, into northern
Texas and southeastern New Mexico (Figure 5).
- Triatoma gerstaeckeri is considered a sylvatic species,
most frequently associated with pack rat (Neotoma spp.) burrows (4). Although
individual triatomine insects occasionally invade domestic dwellings throughout
the southwestern United States and Mexico (4,5,14), this species has not
been reported to colonize these habitats. In this investigation, colonization
appears to have occurred, based on the observation of large numbers of
bugs, including ones in immature stages. In the Chagas diseaseendemic
regions of South and Central America, the primary risk for insect transmission
to humans is related to the efficiency with which local vector species
can invade and colonize homes, resulting in a domestic transmission cycle
for what is otherwise exclusively a zoonotic disease in the southern United
States. In disease-endemic countries, higher house infestation rates generally
result in a higher risk of transmission. At the first site in south Texas,
six dogs either died or tested positive for T. cruzi, and 24 of 31 bugs
contained hindgut trypanosomes. These observations demonstrate the existence
of a domestic transmission cycle for an insect species that is typically
considered a zoonotic vector. Whether this observation represents an isolated
case or actually occurs more frequently but remains unrecognized, indicating
an emerging public health problem, remains to be determined. The serologic
results in stray dogs are very similar to those reported in previous studies
from the region, suggesting that the disease is stably maintained in this
reservoir host (15,16). The distributional predictions based on GARP models
indicate a potentially broad distribution for this species and suggest
additional areas of risk beyond those previously reported (14), should
this problem become of greater public health concern.
- Dr. Beard is chief of the Vector Genetics Section in
the Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
His research focuses on the molecular biology of insect disease vectors
and the molecular epidemiology of Pneumocystis pneumonia in HIV-infected
- Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD Bus
- Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
- Univ of West Indies
- Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message
board at: http://www.emergingdisease.org/phpbb/index.php Also my new website:
http://drpdoyle.tripod.com/ Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and
in Good Health
- From: Bert To:
- Subject: article for you of possible interest from LA
- Date: Fri, 16 Mar 2007
- Hi. I appreciate all the material from you I see on Rense.
- I'm sending this article from the Los Angeles Times in
case you did not come across it elsewhere.
- The Chagas-infected numbers are huge if you consider
1 in 3800 donors means perhaps 2 to 4x that in general population.
- Los Angeles has 3.4 million people, so that works out
to about 900 to 3600.
- When you add up chagas, resistant TB, MRSA, pork parasite
brain worms in food supplies to Mexican immigrants illegal and legal (responsible
for a large number of the seizures cases showing up in SoCal ERs), and
maybe 'Morgellons', Southern California is due to become a disease hell
I figure. Very worrisome.
- Thanks for your published work.
- Parasite Is a Growing Concern For Health Care Professionals
- One in 3,800 donors in the L.A. area tested positive
for Chagas, a deadly disease that is mainly found in Latin America.
- By Rong-Gong Lin II Times Staff Writer
- March 15, 2007
- A little-known but potentially deadly parasite from Latin
America has become one of the latest threats to the blood and organ supplies
in the United States, especially in Los Angeles, where many donors have
traveled to affected countries, health officials say.
- Last year, two heart transplant patients at different
Los Angeles hospitals contracted the parasitic disease, called Chagas,
causing health authorities to issue a national bulletin. Within months,
both patients subsequently died, although not directly from Chagas, according
to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- The parasite, which is generally passed to humans from
a blood-sucking insect that looks like a striped cockroach, can feed over
years on tissues of the heart and gastrointestinal tract. After decades,
tissues can be eroded so much that the organs fail.
- Insect transmission of the parasite in the United States
is rare, but public health and blood bank officials have been concerned
about its increasing prevalence in the blood supply.
- In 1996, using an experimental test, the American Red
Cross found that one in 9,850 blood donors in the L.A. area tested positive
for the parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. Two years later, it was one in every
5,400. By 2006, a more refined test detected the parasite in one in 3,800
donors. About 10% to 30% of infected people develop symptoms of chronic
disease, experts say.
- By contrast, HIV, which blood banks screen for, shows
up in one of every 30,000 donors, said Susan Stramer, executive scientific
officer for the Red Cross.
- If caught early, strong anti-protozoal drugs such as
nifurtimox can bring the parasite to undetectable levels or, in some cases,
eliminate it entirely.
- If the parasite is given the chance to multiply over
years or decades, however, those infected may have to be treated with heart-regulating
drugs or get a pacemaker or heart transplant.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a test
suitable for widespread screening in December. Blood banks have now begun
systematically checking their supplies for the Chagas parasite.
- By late January, the American Red Cross and Phoenix-based
Blood Systems, which collect about 65% of the U.S. blood supply, had started
screening blood for T. cruzi. Other banks, including the Blood Bank of
San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, have no immediate plans for screening
but are monitoring test results from banks that are using the test. In
late February, the CDC reported that the "FDA is expected to recommend
implementation of the test by all blood-collection establishments."
- No organ donors in the United States are now being screened
for the parasite, although the organ procurement agency that covers much
of Southern California plans to begin testing some donors in mid-April.
At first, the screening will be focused on people who have lived in or
traveled to rural parts of Latin America, said Thomas Mone, chief executive
of the agency, OneLegacy.
- In Latin America, about 10 million to 12 million people
are believed to be infected with the Chagas parasite. As many as 1 million
of them are expected to die from the disease unless there are advances
in treatment, according to Dr. James Maguire, a University of Maryland
expert on the disease.
- "Chagas is very, very prevalent in South and Central
America," said Marek Nowicki, a USC blood-disease expert who studied
the effect of Chagas on the Southern California organ supply with the National
Institute of Transplantation.
- "The number of [immigrant] Latinos in Southern California,
Texas and other parts of the United States are growing, but especially
in L.A., a large proportion of organ donors are Latino," Nowicki said.
"They're basically bringing with them the disease prevalence in the
area they used to live."
- The problem is not limited to immigrants. Tourists, too,
can be carriers. The heart transplant cases in Los Angeles last year illustrate
- One donor was a native of El Salvador living in Los Angeles,
and the other was born in the U.S. but had traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico,
where T. cruzi is endemic.
- Richard Edward Russo, then 73, received the heart from
the Salvadoran native. The Burbank retiree appeared to be recovering nicely
last year when, several weeks after his transplant at St. Vincent Medical
Center in Los Angeles, he developed a fever and a rash. He complained of
being tired and couldn't eat or walk.
- About the same time, a 64-year-old man developed similar
symptoms after receiving a transplant at UCLA Medical Center. He had received
the heart from the American tourist.
- At both hospitals, doctors submitted the patients to
a battery of tests, concluding separately that they had Chagas.
- The CDC sent anti-parasitic medication out from Atlanta.
The drug reduced the parasite in the blood of both men to undetectable
levels. But Russo never got better, his wife, Carolyn, said. He suffered
from other hospital-acquired infections and had pneumonia at least twice.
- "It just went downhill," she said. Russo died
in June 2006.
- As a result of the cases, the CDC last summer warned
doctors that the prevalence of infection might be higher than previously
thought, especially in areas like Los Angeles County.
- Chagas is a clear reminder that "diseases don't
have geographic borders anymore," said Dr. Suman Radhakrishna, an
infectious diseases expert in Los Angeles who helped treat Russo. Doctors
need to be "cognizant that diseases happening elsewhere in the world
can happen in our backyard too."
- Another disease, cysticercosis, caused by tapeworm larvae,
is believed to cause as many as 10% of the seizures reported to large urban
emergency rooms in California and New Mexico. Dr. Ashok Jain, a USC emergency
room doctor, said the figure may be as high as 20% at Los Angeles County
USC Medical Center.
- It is spread through ingestion, not the blood or organ
- "When I was in Cook County in Chicago, I didn't
even know it existed," said Jain, an associate professor of clinical
emergency medicine at USC. "Then I came to L.A. County . and oh, God,
there were so many cases."
- Diseases like Chagas and cysticercosis have emerged as
an issue for some opponents of illegal immigration, who argue that exotic
diseases are often spread by illegal immigrants.
- "Curbing illegal entry will diminish the problem
of exposure to such diseases because legal immigrants are medically screened
to protect the U.S. public," said Jack Martin, special projects director
for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, an immigration control
- Public health officials say the migration of diseases
has always been an issue - and is especially so today, in an increasingly
mobile world with a global economy. Many urge caution, not alarm.
- "I don't want people to overreact, but I don't want
people to ignore it," said Victor Tsang, chief of the immunochemistry
lab at the CDC's Division of Parasitic Diseases. "The more we pay
attention to it, the better off we are."