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Chagas disease: Cause, symptoms, treatment and prevention

Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The illness is named after Brazilian physician and researcher Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano Chagas, who diagnosed the first known case of the malady in 1909, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

An estimated 6 million to 7 million people worldwide are thought to be infected with T. cruzi, the WHO states, although the CDC website says there may be as many as 8 million. Chagas disease can be cured if treatment begins soon after infection, but if left untreated, the infection can become chronic and can sometimes lead to severe and life-threatening medical problems. 

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