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Chagas disease: understand the food transmission

Chagas disease: understand the food transmission

Chagas disease is known to make the heart grow in size when it is in the chronic phase. What we usually learn at school is that it is transmitted through the feces of the mosquito barber - when it bites, it also usually eliminates the protozoa through the feces and by scratching the place we end up infecting ourselves.

However, today 70% Trypanosoma cruzi no longer occur in this way. "According to data from the last epidemiological bulletin of the Ministry of Health of 2015 on Chagas disease, most of the cases of transmission of this disease occur through food," explains the infectologist Filipe Piastrelli, doctor of the Vergueiro Unit of the German Hospital Oswaldo But how does the foodborne transmission of Chagas disease occur?

The form of contamination is similar: food comes in contact with the feces or urine of the mosquito barber. It may also occur that the mosquito is processed with food. "Oral transmission occurs when there is ingestion of fresh foods such as palm hearts, açaí juice and contaminated cane juice", explains the infectologist Gustavo Dittmar, Hospital Santa Cruz (SP).

However, it should be noted that this type of transmission is much more common in the Northern region of Brazil: 91% of the cases occurred there and have their peak between August and November, the harvest period of the açaí, as Piastrelli points out.

What changes with this oral transmission?

The danger of oral transmission is that it makes the initial manifestation of the disease much more intense. "In oral transmission we have the contamination of the food by multiple barbers, unlike the direct transmission that is due to contact with a single insect," Piastrelli differentiates.

Symptoms usually appear between 3 and 22 days after consumption of contaminated food and may include:

Prolonged fever

  • Headache
  • Pallor
  • Body pain
  • Red spots
  • Swelling
  • Cases of cardiac and brain involvement are very rare at this stage "reassures Dittmar.

How to prevent the oral transmission of Chagas disease?

There are some measures that can prevent contamination by Chagas disease in natural foods. :

Buy foods such as acai and heart of registered suppliers that meet the necessary sanitary conditions

  • Avoid consumption of raw fruits in the most frequent places of outbreaks of the disease (states of Pará, Amapá and Acre)
  • Outside these locations, opt for these pasteurized or freeze-dried foods. It is not known for how long the parasite becomes viable in frozen liquid preparations.

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