Information for Patients
Also called: American trypanosomiasis, South American trypanosomiasis
Chagas disease is caused by a parasite. It is common in Latin America but not in the United States. Infected blood-sucking bugs, sometimes called kissing bugs, spread it. When the bug bites you, usually on your face, it leaves behind infected waste. You can get the infection if you rub it in your eyes or nose, the bite wound or a cut. The disease can also spread through contaminated food, a blood transfusion, a donated organ or from mother to baby during pregnancy.
If you notice symptoms, they might include
- Flu-like symptoms
- A rash
- A swollen eyelid
These early symptoms usually go away. However, if you don't treat the infection, it stays in your body. Later, it can cause serious intestinal and heart problems.
A physical exam and blood tests can diagnose it. You may also need tests to see whether the disease has affected your intestines and heart.
Medicines can kill the parasite, especially early on. You can also treat related problems. For example, a pacemaker helps with certain heart complications.
There are no vaccines or medicines to prevent Chagas disease. If you travel to areas where it occurs, you are at higher risk if you sleep outdoors or in poor housing conditions. It is important to use insecticides to prevent bites, and practice food safety.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Chagas disease (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Chagas Disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Also called: Spinal meningitis
Meningitis is inflammation of the thin tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called the meninges. There are several types of meningitis. The most common is viral meningitis. You get it when a virus enters the body through the nose or mouth and travels to the brain. Bacterial meningitis is rare, but can be deadly. It usually starts with bacteria that cause a cold-like infection. It can cause stroke, hearing loss, and brain damage. It can also harm other organs. Pneumococcal infections and meningococcal infections are the most common causes of bacterial meningitis.
Anyone can get meningitis, but it is more common in people with weak immune systems. Meningitis can get serious very quickly. You should get medical care right away if you have
- A sudden high fever
- A severe headache
- A stiff neck
- Nausea or vomiting
Early treatment can help prevent serious problems, including death. Tests to diagnose meningitis include blood tests, imaging tests, and a spinal tap to test cerebrospinal fluid. Antibiotics can treat bacterial meningitis. Antiviral medicines may help some types of viral meningitis. Other medicines can help treat symptoms.
There are vaccines to prevent some of the bacterial infections that cause meningitis.
NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
- Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) collection (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Cerebrospinal fluid culture (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Meningitis (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Meningitis - cryptococcal (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Meningitis - gram-negative (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Meningitis - H. influenzae (Medical Encyclopedia)
- Meningococcal ACWY Vaccines - MenACWY and MPSV4: What You Need to Know (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV13): What You Need to Know (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine: What You Need to Know (Immunization Action Coalition)
- Pneumococcal Polysaccharide Vaccine: What You Need to Know (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)