What causes Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis)?

Updated: Apr 26, 2019
  • Author: Louis V Kirchhoff, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Answer

It is not known which host factors or parasite characteristics cause some persons with chronic T cruzi infection to develop clinically apparent cardiac and gastrointestinal lesions (10%‑30%), while others remain infected for life but do not develop symptoms related to the infection. This pattern of variable clinical penetrance is not particularly surprising, since it is similar to that observed in most other infectious diseases. Parasite strain, host immunogenetics, nutrition, age at first infection, other medical conditions, and various other factors may play roles in the pathogenesis of chronic symptomatic Chagas disease. Currently, there is no way to predict if an infected person in the indeterminate phase of T cruzi infection is likely to develop symptomatic disease.


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