Frequently Asked Questions About Chagas
I had a routine physical and bloodwork done recently. They would have checked for Chagas disease, right?
Probably not. While blood and organ donors are routinely tested, most providers do not regularly check for Chagas disease. If you are unsure, ask your provider.
I was bitten by a kissing bug. Do I have Chagas disease now?
Maybe, but probably not. Not all kissing bugs have the parasite, and even if they do, they do not always transmit it.
I was bitten by a kissing bug and now I have a rash. Is that from Chagas disease?
It is possible, but you may also be experiencing an allergic reaction to the saliva of the kissing bug. In any case, a simple Chagas test is recommended.
I just took a vacation in Mexico or another Latin American country. Am I at risk for Chagas disease?
Most likely no, unless you were in a rural area where kissing bugs were present. Your risk of Chagas disease is very small unless you spent 6 months or greater in Latin America. If you were in an urban or developed area, you were probably not exposed to Chagas disease.
I feel fine, so why would I need to get tested for a disease?
Many diseases, like Chagas, have a long period where they do not cause symptoms. Unfortunately, once you feel the symptoms of Chagas disease, the damage may be irreversible. It is actually very important to get tested when you are still feeling well. Take our quiz to see if you should get tested, or check out the risk factors for Chagas disease.
Is Chagas disease contagious?
It is not contagious like the cold or flu, and it is not sexually transmitted like HIV. It is usually transmitted by kissing bugs. You will not get Chagas disease from touching or being in close contact with someone who has the disease.
I have Chagas disease and I am pregnant. Will my baby be OK?
Your baby will need to be tested for Chagas disease. Be sure to talk to your OB/GYN and pediatrician about testing options. 2-5% of babies born to positive mothers also get the disease. The good news is, your baby can be treated and cured if the test comes out positive.
If Chagas disease is such a problem, why haven’t I heard about it before?
Chagas is a neglected disease that has not gotten the same attention as other diseases. Health professionals have not known about it and so have not looked for it. We are working to bring more attention to Chagas disease so the people affected can start to get the treatment they need.
My doctor says Chagas disease is not a problem here.
Mounting evidence shows Chagas disease affects more than 300,000 people in the United States. Refer your doctor to our page for health professionals so they can see the latest evidence.
I have Chagas. Can I donate blood?
Unfortunately, once you have contracted Chagas you will not be able to donate blood or organs because of the potential risk of transmission.