American trypanosomiasis, or Chagas disease, is caused by the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi. Sixteen to eighteen million people are currently infected with this organism, and 45,000 deaths are attributed to the disease each year. Infection with T. cruzi is life-long, and 10-30% of persons who harbor the parasite chronically develop cardiac and gastrointestinal problems associated with the parasitosis. Although major progress has been made in recent years in reducing vector-borne and transfusion-associated transmission of T. cruzi, the burden of disability and death in persons chronically infected with the organism continues to be enormous. Eight to ten million persons born in countries in which Chagas disease is endemic currently reside in the United States, and epidemiologic and census data suggest that 50,000-100,000 are chronically infected with T. cruzi. The presence of these infected persons poses a risk of transmission of the parasite in the USA through blood transfusion and organ transplantation and several such cases have now been documented.
Preface. The life cycle of Trypanosoma cruzi; K.M. Tyler, et al. Novel cell biology of Trypanosoma cruzi; W.de Souza. Trypanosoma cruzi surface proteins; A.C.C. Frasch. Signaling in Trypanosoma cruzi; R. Docampo, S.N.J. Moreno. Genetic diversity of Trypanosoma cruzi; O. Fernandes, B. Zengales. Functional disection of Trypanosoma cruzi genome: new approaches in a new era; M.C. Taylor, J.M. Kelly. Trypanosoma cruzi cell invasion mechanisms; N. Yoshida. Recent developments in the pathology of Chagas disease with emphasis on the cardiovascular system; H.B. Tanowitz, et al. The contribution of autoimmunity to Chagas heart disease; J.S. Leon, D.M. Engman. Trypanosoma cruzi and Chagas disease: cause and effect; R.L. Tarleton. Specific treatment for Trypanosoma cruzi infection (Chagas disease); A. Rassi, A.O. Luquetti. Rational approaches to specific chemotherapy of Chagas disease; J.A. Urbina. The ecotypes and evolution of Trypanosoma cruzi and triatomine bugs; M.A. Miles, M. Yeo, M. Gaunt. Paratransgenic strategies for the control of Chagas disease; E.M. Dotson, C.B. Beard. Current public health concerns; L.V. Kirchhoff. Index.
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