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Banning animals from the bedroom could reduce Chagas Disease risk, say Science researchers

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Keeping chickens and especially dogs out of bedrooms could help reduce the risk of deadly Chagas disease infection in rural areas of Central and South America, according to a new report in the 27 July issue of the international journal, Science.

The study is the first mathematical model of Chagas disease infection to use data from individual households on a community-wide basis, says lead author Joel E. Cohen of Rockefeller University and Columbia University.

Chagas disease, or American trypanosomiasis, is a chronic, frequently fatal infection caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, an American cousin to the African sleeping sickness parasite. T. cruzi is transmitted through the feces of blood-feeding bugs called triatomines, commonly known as "kissing" bugs, "cone-nosed" bugs, vinchuca, or barbeiro.

According to the World Health Organization, 16-18 million people from Mexico to Argentina are affected by Chagas disease, and another 100 million, or 25 percent of the region's population, are at risk of infection. Infection is lifelong, and can result in fatal heart disease.

Despite national-level insecticide spraying programs and blood screening in Latin America, Chagas disease remains a " serious obstacle to health and economic development," especially for the rural poor, say study authors Cohen and Ricardo E. Grtler of Universidad de Buenos Aires.

To better understand how the T. cruzi parasite is transmitted in rural areas, Cohen and Grtler created a mathematical model based on household data from three rural villages in northwest Argentina. The model looks at seasonal fluctuations in household bug and parasite populations, and
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Contact: Becky Ham
rham@aaas.org
202-326-6657
American Association for the Advancement of Science
23-Jul-2001


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