Friday, December 28, 2007

Kiss of the Assassin

Observing the habitat of the Assassin bug and counting the number of bugs noted by exterminators has been tested as a very inexpensive, yet accurate method to determine if children need to be tested for the presence of the parasite, a protozoan called Trypanosoma cruzi.

Good news for the people in Peru and other South American countries plagued by Chaga's Disease.
clipped from
LONDON (Reuters) - A new, low-cost screening strategy could make it easier for poor countries to target and treat Chagas disease, a deadly parasite-borne condition found mainly in Latin America, according to a new study.
By Michael Kahn
But a team of U.S. researchers showed they could use easy-to-collect data on the number of insects found in homes during spraying campaigns to identify clusters of at-risk children who should be tested for Chagas disease.

"The exterminators are really telling us what kids need to be tested," said Levy, who conducted the study while at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "It is very easy to add on to existing programs."

Chagas disease is usually transmitted to humans by a blood-sucking insect called an assassin bug or a kissing bug. The insect carries a protozoan parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which kills more people in the region each year than any other parasite-born disease, including malaria, Levy said.

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