Chagas disease: A costly and growing health threat

An obscure malady called Chagas disease, transmitted by a bloodsucking insect that bites victims as they sleep, costs the world more than previously believed -- about $7 billion annually, according to a study co-authored by Baker Institute fellow in disease and poverty Peter J. Hotez and just published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. 

Chagas disease is endemic in South America and, due to immigration, has spread northward to the United States. It can be fatal, causing long-term damage to the heart or intestines. "The economic burden it imposes on the world is greater than that of better-known diseases, like cervical cancer or cholera," writes the New York Times in a story about the new study.

Hotez and his co-authors call for action and sustained support for prevention and control, as well as treatment for the thousands who are infected.