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How do I get Chagas disease?

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T. cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease, isn’t passed from person to person like a cold or flu.

Instead, it's spread by triatomine bugs, also known as “kissing bugs.” They’re called that because they often bite people on the thin skin around the eyes or mouth, usually while the person is asleep (the bites are fairly painless and probably wouldn’t wake someone up).

But the bug’s bite isn’t what causes the infection -- it’s their poop. If a bug bites an infected animal or person, it becomes a carrier of T. cruzi, which is passed through its feces. The next time the bug feeds on a person, it leaves droppings on them, which can enter that person’s body through their eyes, nose, mouth, or the wound from the bite itself.

From: What Is Chagas Disease? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

CDC: “Parasites – American Trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas Disease).”

World Health Organization: “Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis).”

Boston College: “Chagas.”

University of Pennsylvania Health System: “Penn Study Shows Bed Bugs Can Transmit Parasite that Causes Chagas Disease.”

MedlinePlus: “Chagas Disease.”

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 06, 2017

SOURCES:

CDC: “Parasites – American Trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas Disease).”

World Health Organization: “Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis).”

Boston College: “Chagas.”

University of Pennsylvania Health System: “Penn Study Shows Bed Bugs Can Transmit Parasite that Causes Chagas Disease.”

MedlinePlus: “Chagas Disease.”

Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian on November 06, 2017

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