Also referred to as American trypanosomiasis, Chagas disease is a condition caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite commonly found in the Americas (particularly in rural areas of South and Central America). The condition can be contracted through vector-borne transmission (where disease is acquired from an insect bite) or blood transfusions, organ transplantations, consumption of uncooked foods contaminated with the feces of infected insects, accidental lab exposure, or congenital (mother-to-baby) transmission.
Presently, there are two known phases of Chagas disease: acute and chronic. These can range from symptom-free to life-threatening. During the acute phase, which lasts for a few weeks or months, a person could be asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms. Chronic Chagas disease, if left untreated, can lead to serious health complications such as congestive heart failure.