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Travel health information for people travelling abroad from the UK

Trypanosomiasis (American) in Venezuela

06 Feb 2014

The media has reported on a steep increase in the number of cases of American trypanosomiasis (also known as Chagas' disease) in Venezuela since the beginning of 2014. The Ministry of Health recorded 334 cases during the first three weeks of January 2014. During the week bginning 12 January, 175 cases were recorded, this compares with 4 cases during the same time period of 2013.

Children are the worst affected, accounting for 56% of cases in January 2014.  Since September 2013, the states with the highest incidence of vectors transmitting the infection are: Cojedes, Barinas, Portuguesa and Guarico.

Advice for Travellers

American trypanosomiasis is transmitted through the skin from infected reduviid bugs. The bugs inhabit the walls and roofs of mud huts in extensive areas of southern and central America. The bugs emerge at night, transmitting infection by rubbing the organisms voided in their faeces into the bite wound during feeding.

Exposure to reduviid bugs can be reduced by the use of bednets in houses and camps. Residual insecticides can be used to treat housing.