Huffington Post

Dr. Peter Hotez and co-author Bernard Pécoul say a "yellow card" warning must be raised about one of Latin America's most serious public health threats: Chagas disease.

"World Cup-participating nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay have made great strides in eliminating new transmission of Chagas disease through national programs of insecticidal spraying, but it remains a sad fact that most people living with Chagas disease are never tested for their illness, and less than 1 percent of these infected individuals have access to treatment. Instead they are mostly neglected by their medical communities, and allowed to become sick and die. More than 10,000 such people die every year of Chagasic heart disease. Brazil, Argentina and Mexico lead the world in terms of number of cases -- more than one million each -- and deaths.

Beyond its health impact, Chagas disease also causes an estimated $7 billion in global economic losses as infected people become too ill to work and the health care costs accumulate for managing heart disease. It comes as no surprise that a new study conducted in Mexico just determined that it is ultimately less expensive to treat a Chagas disease patient than not to treat."