Chagas disease - a tropical parasite disease may be more widespread in Texas than previously thought, says researcher from The University of Texas. Chagas can lead to life-threatening heart and digestive disorders.
"We've been studying this for four years now, and this year the number of disease-causing insects is quite amazing," says Sahotra Sarkar, professor of integrative biology and philosophy at The University of Texas at Austin and lead author of a paper on the disease published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Endemic to rural areas of Latin America, Chagas disease is often transmitted by triatomine bugs, also known as "kissing bugs."
In order to assess the prevalence of Chagas disease in Texas, Sarkar is working with a network of health professionals and researchers around the state. After collecting and classifying insects from the field, Sarkar sends them to Philip Williamson, an assistant professor at The University of North Texas Health Science Center. Williamson determines how many of the bugs carry the protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes the disease.