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Chagas disease in Texas: recognizing the significance and implications of evidence in the literature.

Chagas disease is endemic and is recognized as a major health problem in many Latin American countries. Despite the parallels between socio-economic and environmental conditions in Texas and much of Latin America, Chagas disease is not a notifiable human disease in Texas. Based on extensive review of related literature, this paper seeks to recognize the evidence that Chagas Disease is endemic to Texas but the epidemiological, parasitological and entomological patterns of Chagas disease in Texas are both different from and parallel to other endemic regions. We find that with a growing immigrant human reservoir, the epidemiological differences may be reduced and result in increasing incidence of the disease. Chagas disease should be recognized as an emerging disease among both immigrant and indigenous populations. Without proper actions, Chagas disease will place increasing burden on the health care system. Current medical treatments consist of chemotherapies that carry the risk of serious side effects; curing the potentially fatal disease remains equivocal. Therefore, as shown in South America, prevention is paramount and can be successfully achieved through intervention and education. We conclude that biogeographical research is needed to (1) distinguish the dynamic evolution of the agent-vector-host system, (2) document locations with greater risk and identify mechanisms responsible for observed changes in risk, and (3) assist in developing a model for Triatomid vector-borne disease in states like Texas where the disease is both endemic and may be carried by a sizeable immigrant population. Tracking of Chagas disease and planning for appropriate health care services would also be aided by including Chagas disease on the list of reportable diseases for humans.

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