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Update on Chagas disease in Venezuela--a review.

The present article reviews the status of Chagas disease in Venezuela based on the detection of Trypanosoma cruzi infections both in referred patients with clinical presumptive diagnosis (1988-2002) and in individuals sampled from rural localities representative of the different geographical regions of the country (1995-2002). In the former group from 306 individuals examined, 174 (56.8%) were seropositive to T. cruzi; 73 (42%) in the acute phase with 52 (71%) showing blood circulating parasites, and from these 38% were children under 10 years old. The other 101 (58%) showed chronic infection at different degrees of cardiac complication. In addition, serologic examination of 3835 individuals from rural areas revealed 11.7% seroprevalence. From these, 8.5% (38/448) were children aged from 0 to 10 years old. These figures suggest that Chagas disease may be re-emerging in Venezuela judging for the active transmission detected during the last decade. The success of the Venezuelan anti-chagasic campaign during the last 40 years is evaluated in the frame of the present results. The epidemiological situation is discussed and recommendation to consider Chagas disease as a national priority is given.

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