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Chagas disease being called 'New AIDS of the Americas'

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Top news coming in to an overcast San Francisco today is about an insect-borne disease that most people don't know about. That disease--Chagas disease--according to Newser.com, is fast becoming known as the "new AIDS of the Americas."

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Chagas disease is caused by parasites that suck a person's blood. Around 8 million people are believed to currently have Chagas disease.

"Yuck! That sounds horrible!" says San Francisco resident, Anne Witham. "I hope they can quickly find a cure for it."

Newser.com advises that while most people don't show any outward signs of the disease, around a quarter of them may die from enlarged hearts or intestines.

According to the news source: "Most sufferers live in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, and Bolivia, but there are some 300,000 in the US, many of them immigrants, the New York Times reports."

Since many Latin American people now live in European countries, numbers in those countries have also started to increase.

Experts writing in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, say the spread of Chagas disease is similar to what happened in the early days with HIV/AIDS. And, similar to HIV/AIDS, the disease can be spread by way of blood transfusions.

Newser.com reports, too, that: "Like AIDS, Chagas—also known as American trypanosomiasis—has a long incubation time, and is hard or impossible to cure, the experts warn, noting that because it is a "disease of the poor," little money is spent on prevention or finding new treatments."

The news site says that Chagas disease is believed to have killed Charles Darwin after he received a bug bite in South America. It's thought that it took decades for Darwin to die, however.

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See the slideshow and the informative video about Chagas disease on the left-hand side for more on this story.

See other headlines from this week in the "Suggested by the Author" section below.

Source: Newser.com

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