How to prevent Chagas?

There is no vaccine to prevent Chagas disease. However, the following prevention and control tools are useful depending on the geographical area(s) affected:

  • insecticide spraying of houses and surrounding areas;

  • home improvements to prevent vector infestation (such as plastering walls, and installing concrete floors and corrugated iron roofs);

  • good hygiene practices in food preparation, transportation, storage and consumption;

  • personal preventive measures such as bednets;

  • screening of blood donors;

  • testing of organ, tissue and cell donors and receivers;

  • observance of the standard safety protocols (wearing laboratory coats, gloves, face masks, caps and glasses) for laboratory accidents prevention

Additionally, key tools of congenital transmission control are the screening of infected pregnant women and the early detection of possible infection in neonates (secondary prevention) and their siblings to provide early diagnosis and treatment.

The diagnosis of an infected newborn can be made at birth by detecting parasites directly in the umbilical cord or venous blood of the baby or when the infant is aged 8 months by detecting antibodies against T. cruzi.

In areas where malaria is also transmitted, a system of surveillance for Chagas disease has been recently implemented. Malaria microscopy technicians have been trained to identify T. cruzi parasites in malaria films and detect acute Chagas disease in individual cases. Through them, possible foodborne outbreaks and active transmission areas for the disease may be also detected and controlled.