Photo: Chagas diseases in Paraguay 2012 © Seamus Murphy/VII
Chagas: Silent Killer
Though little known in the rest of the world, Chagas disease is far and away Latin America’s deadliest parasitic disease, affecting 10 million people worldwide. The disease spread by the bite of the so-called “kissing bug,” Chagas can lie undetected for years before it causes severe heart and gastrointestinal problem that can ultimately kill those who do not receive treatment.
Only two drugs are available to treat the disease, both developed over 40 years ago and not specifically for Chagas. It is possible to both diagnose and treat Chagas, but in too many cases, people living in the isolated regions where the disease proliferates cannot access the care and testing they need to protect themselves.
Since 1999, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has been working with Chagas patients in numerous countries and advocating for more targeted research and development, along with more aggressive national health policies. VII Photo’s Seamus Murphy visited Paraguay to document the impact of Chagas, examining the causes and the consequences of a disease that has been known, for too long, as the “silent killer.”