The Chagas disease, caused by kissing bugs, which bite humans around their lips and faces when they sleep, and then defecate into the wound with faeces that harbour an infectious parasite, Trypanasoma cruzi, was considered to be mild or even asymptomatic.
However, a new study has found that deaths fueled by the infection are much more common than we know and are going unrecognised. A study published Thursday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, found that infection with Chagas could increase risk of death by two to three times.
Diagnosis is a challenge in many parts of Central and South America, where the disease is most prevalent, with people often finding out that they are infected only when they donate blood.
The kissing bugs behind the disease have also been reported in 25 US states, with the largest concentration in the South.