Chagas Disease (American Trypanosomiasis)
Trypanosomiasis is caused by the protozoan T. cruzi. A small number of cases have been reported in the southwestern United States, Texas, and California. Raccoons, opossums, armadillos, rate, cats, and dogs serve as the principal reservoirs.
Signs include fever, weakness, enlargement of the lymph nodes and spleen, and inflammation of the spinal cord and brain.
Dogs (and humans) acquire the disease from a family of insects called kissing bugs, named because they come out of cracks at night and bite the face of sleepers. Infection occurs through contamination of the bugs bites by the insect's feces. Another source of infection in dogs is feeding on a host (such as a raccoon) that harbours encysted larvae in its tissues.
the diagnosis is made by identifying the protozoan in blood smears. Serology tests are also available.
Experimental drugs have been used, but the response if poor.
Because this often fatal disease can be transmitted to humans through intermediate hosts, euthanizing the animal is recommended. It is essential to take the utmost precautions when handling infected animals, as well as their blood and discharges.
Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect you or your pet may have this condition.
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