Sugar Cane Juice Causes Deadly Outbreak of Chagas in Brazil

    Contaminated sugar cane juice is thought to be the source of a Brazilian outbreak of Chagas disease, a potentially fatal parasitic disease normally transmitted to people by insect bites.

    In the past few days, health officials in the state of Santa Catarina have recorded 45 cases of patients developing symptoms of Chagas disease after drinking the juice. At least five of the patients died.


    The patients initially reported having fever, migraine, and muscle pain, with some going on to develop jaundice, abdominal pain, internal bleeding, fluid in the lungs and heart failure.


    Blood tests confirmed the presence of Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease, in 31 of the 45 suspected cases.


    The disease is usually spread to people when insects called assassin or kissing bugs bite them, but researchers believe that food and drink that have been contaminated by the parasite could be an alternative route of infection.


    So far though, the mechanism is not known.


    Sonia Gumes Andrade, who studies Chagas disease at the Gonçalo Moniz Research Institute says that since the 1960s, there have been a number of ‘micro-epidemics’ of the disease in which the kissing bug was not recorded. She adds that the current outbreak is the most significant in terms of the number of cases.


    In 2002, Andrade demonstrated that the parasite could be transmitted orally.


    “We introduced Trypanosoma cruzi through a tube directly to the stomach of mice and we observed that the parasite not only survives in the gastric juice, but also is able to infect the animal,” she said.


    Previously, scientists thought the gastric juice would destroy the parasite.


    Brazil’s Ministry of Health has launched an investigation to find the source of contamination and is warning people of the threat.


    Chagas disease infects an estimated 12 million people in Latin America, killing tens of thousands each year.


    Science and Development Network
    www.scidev.net

    Tags:

    • Show Comments (0)

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    comment *

    • name *

    • email *

    • website *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Ads

    You May Also Like

    German company Biopuster

    A Brazilian City Recipe for Recycling Waste and Eliminating Landfills

    Maringá, a city in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, generates 320 tons of ...

    Brazil Decries Surtax Imposed on Its Orange Juice by the U.S. and Vows Retaliation

    The Brazilian government said that it considered “unfortunate” the United States decision to impose ...

    UK Wants G8 to Be G13 with Brazil Included

    UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is calling for the G8 group of industrialized nations ...

    The Making of Lula of Brazil

    A new book on Lula explores the Brazilian President’s private and emotional life in ...

    Low Dollar Hurts Brazil’s Machinery Sector

    The exports of Brazilian machinery and equipment has broken a new historic record bringing ...

    Brazil’s Death Toll Due to Organized Crime Climbs to 149

    Brazilian news media reported at least 16 deaths overnight in and around São Paulo, ...

    LETTERS

    In the eyes of its foreign creditors, Brazil’s most important spending concern has to ...

    Public office in Brazil

    Brazil’s State-Run Companies Spending Rises 277% with Lula

    A report from Brazil’s Department of State-Run Enterprise Coordination and Governance (Dest), which is ...

    Brazil’s Primary Account Surplus Well Above IMF Target

    According to Brazil’s secretary of the National Treasury, Joaquim Levy, the increase in Brazilian primary account ...