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Health: Monitoring How The Chagas Disease Is Damaging South America

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Latin Americans are currently grappling with the emergence of Chagas, a novel plague originating from their own households.

Similar to bed bugs, Chagas is rapidly proliferating and inflicting serious health issues upon the vulnerable population.

Due to the scarcity of local data, health organizations can effectively gauge the evolving situation in each country by closely monitoring search trends, making it the most valuable resource for analysis.

Chagas : A growing concern for public health

Chagas disease is an infectious condition caused by the bite of a specific type of bedbug known as vinchucas (Triatominae). It predominantly occurs in the tropical regions of South and Central America and is regarded as one of the most severe plagues in the continent, alongside dengue, zika, and chikungunya. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that currently, Chagas disease affects approximately 8 to 10 million individuals, while an estimated 100 million others (equivalent to 25% of the Latin American population) remain at risk of contracting the disease. Tragically, Chagas disease claims the lives of around 50,000 people each year.

 2,26M of searches for the disease in 2021

 +61,3% of searches on last 6 months

Volume of search for “vinchuca” insect last 6 months in South America

Chagas, Vinchuca: Variations of a Singular Problem

While Chagas disease may be known by various names, our platform possesses the capability to identify and encompass all of these appellations, adapting to the local language and cultural context. In order to gain the most comprehensive and extensive understanding of this affliction, our study has focused on surveying Spanish and Portuguese expressions associated with the disease. This approach allows us to develop a broad perspective that encompasses the diverse linguistic and cultural aspects of this plague.

 2,26M of searches for the disease in 2021

Top #1 search in every latin country

A continental issue with local disparities

Chagas disease is widespread across the Americas, spanning from the southern United States to northern Argentina, primarily affecting impoverished rural areas in Central and South America.

Let’s look at the number of online searches by country in Latin America – what we refer to as ‘local affinity’.

Notably, countries within the sub-Amazonian region exhibit the highest affinity with the disease, indicated by the number of searches per 100,000 inhabitants.

These findings align with the geographical distribution of the disease outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), which emphasizes that dense vegetation, such as rainforests, and urban habitats do not offer favorable conditions for the establishment of the human transmission cycle.

Considering their respective populations, the countries exhibiting the greatest concern regarding the disease are:

→ Chile182 searches per 100.000 inhabitants

→ Argentina176 searches per 100.000 inhabitants

Affinity distribution in South America for the disease

Examining the Disease’s Progression throughout the Year.

While the world grappled with the unexpected outbreak of Covid-19, other infections silently crossed borders.

Similar to many diseases, the Chagas plague demonstrates a degree of seasonality. People tend to exhibit heightened concerns about symptoms during the spring season:

→ 38,000 searches about Chagas disease symptoms in May

→ It’s 2,1x more than the monthly mean

Searches related to the plague evolution along 2021 in South America

Is Chagas making its way to Europe ?

Although Chagas disease is not endemic to non-endemic regions like Europe, there have been numerous imported cases reported. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there are approximately 26,000 patients in Spain, 5,000 in France and Italy, and 1,500 in Germany and Switzerland.

Our platform has also been monitoring these imported cases in Europe, revealing interesting insights:

f Spain were located in South America, it would rank as the sixth most searched-for country regarding Chagas disease, surpassing countries like Peru, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

In Spain & Portugal:

Consequences and main symptoms?

The initial phase of Chagas disease, known as the onset phase, typically lasts for one to two weeks and is characterized by the parasites entering the bloodstream. During this phase, symptoms are often mild, non-specific, or completely absent. Common symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and headaches.

The late consequences of Chagas disease manifest years or even decades after the initial infection in the chronic symptomatic phase. The severity of these consequences can vary and primarily affect the heart, digestive system, and nervous system.

→ The main concern is related to heart condition, which account for 88.5% of searches.

→ Gastro-intestinal condition: 5,9%

→ Swollen eyelid: 3%

→ Skin rash: 2,6%

Symptom distribution searches in South America

Local populations are looking for drug treatments they can barely afford.

Drug treatments for Chagas disease are most effective when administered during the acute phase of infection. The preferred medications are azole or nitro derivatives, such as benznidazole or nifurtimox. Through our platform, we have observed that people tend to search more for nifurtimox as a treatment option. It is searched 2.16 times more in Chile, 2 times more in Ecuador, and 1.7 times more in Peru.


Currently, there are no vaccines available for Chagas disease. Although some research has shown efficacy in animal models, it is challenging to extrapolate these findings to humans. However, there is a consistent demand for vaccines, with around 800 monthly searches related to Chagas vaccines.

Evolution of searches related to chagas vaccine along 2021

Fighting Vinchucas without Vaccines:

Similar to mosquitoes, bedbugs (vinchucas) are major vectors of various diseases in South America.

Local populations are actively seeking alternative methods to combat these pests, apart from relying on drugs and vaccines. Monthly searches include topics such as testing and physiopathology (9,600 searches), antiparasitic knowledge (4,500 searches), and carrying out xenodiagnostic procedures (120 searches).

 Searches for prevention solutions distribution in South Americas 

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