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Reaction: Chagas disease is also under-diagnosed in Spain

A study of nearly 3,000 Latin Americans who attended the Hospital Clínic in Barcelona over 17 years showed that 47% were infected by the parasite that causes Chagas disease. Of these, 17% also presented cardiac alterations derived from the disease. The study reveals that there is under-diagnosis in Spain, as there is in endemic areas. However, due to the characteristics of the research, the authors point out that "these data cannot be used to estimate the prevalence of infection in the general Latin American population living in Spain", which is notably lower according to other studies. The results are published in the journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

13/07/2023 - 20:00 CEST
Expert reactions

Jacob - Chagas (EN)

Jacob Lorenzo-Morales

Professor of Parasitology, Director of the University Institute of Tropical Diseases and Public Health of the Canary Islands of the University of La Laguna and CIBERINFEC researcher

Science Media Centre Spain

It is a very interesting study carried out by some of the best experts on Chagas disease in Spain. The data collected and the methodology used are the most appropriate.  

The study is notable for the high percentage of infected people. This may be closely related to the area of the country of origin where these people live, for example, rural areas with a high prevalence of the vector of this disease, which are the kissing bugs or vinchucas. So there may be a bias if these patients come from these types of areas.  

I believe that the positive aspect of the study is to initiate screening in patients who come from endemic areas of the disease, since it is not only transmitted by the vector (not present in Spain) but also by blood, for example, through transfusions.

The author has not responded to our request to declare conflicts of interest
Characterization of Latin American migrants at risk for Trypanosoma cruzi infection in a non-endemic setting. Insights into initial evaluation of cardiac and digestive involvement
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  • Observational study
  • People
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
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Laynez-Roldán et al.

Study types:
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  • Peer reviewed
  • Observational study
  • People
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