Dr. Peter Hotez discusses what he refers to as "a very serious and dangerous tropical disease situation now unfolding in Venezuela."
"Malaria is not the only tropical disease to re-emerge in Venezuela. Dengue cases are increasing and there are serious concerns about chikungunya spreading from the Caribbean. Moreover, there have been shortages in the national stockpile of antimonial drugs for treating leishmaniasis, and we learned of an unresolved problem with urban schistosomiasis caused by Schistosoma mansoni. In 2010, Dr. Belkisyole Alarcon de Noya and her colleagues from the Instituto de Medicine Tropical, Universidad Central de Venezuela, reported on a large urban outbreak of orally acquired acute Chagas disease at a school comprised of mostly middle-class schoolchildren in Caracas. More than 100 of 1,000 exposed individuals became infected with Trypanosoma cruzi when they ingested contaminated guava juice. More than one-half of the confirmed cases exhibited abnormalities on their ECG recordings, while 20 percent required hospitalization. There was also one death – a five-year-old child who died of acute Chagasic myocarditis. Subsequent T. cruzi genotyping confirmed a common source of infection."