Chagas Disease: Brazil and Mexico collaborate in Virtual Vector Project

Sept 25, 2014

Christy Craig

Recently described by Mexico’s INSP as a “forgotten disease,” Chagas disease infects over 7 million people worldwide. The disease, which is spread by certain species of triatomine bugs, or “kissing bugs,” is endemic in rural areas of many Latin American countries, and can manifest in both acute and chronic stages.

As there is no vaccine for Chagas disease, vector control is the strongest method of prevention. Public health workers in affected areas strive to educate the public of the risks of Chagas disease, and provide countermeasures to areas with triatomine bug infestations. However, the insects' response to preventive measures and fumigation varies by species. Under the leadership of the University of Kansas, IANPHI Members FIOCRUZ (Brazil) and INSP (Mexico) are partnering in the Virtual Vector Project. The project aims to develop an insect recognition software which will assist local public health workers in identifying and addressing the insects, in order to better protect homes and communities from Chagas disease. This new, innovative approach is expected to have significant impact in Chagas disease contol, and may be expanded to identify mosquitoes and ticks. Learn more about the project here

In addition to the Virtual Vector Project, INSP has developed promotional materials to assist in educating the public about the risks and treatment of this "forgotten diesase".