Just as the last remaining US patient with Ebola, Dr. Craig Spencer, is released from New York’s Bellevue Hospital, comes a report that another tropical disease, deemed “the new AIDS,” has already infected 300,000 people and is poised to strike more.

Over 300,000 Americans have already been infected with the potentially fatal ‘kissing bug disease’ called Chagas but U.S. healthcare workers lack of knowledge about the illness is letting many cases of the parasite unnoticed. Some doctors are calling it the ‘new AIDS’ because of the way it develops.

Researchers who gathered on Tuesday at the annual American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene meeting in New Orleans said that if caught early the disease can be cured however sometimes the disease can be asymptomatic and there is a dearth in medication for the condition.

The CDC reports that the initial symptoms of the disease caused by a parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which is spread through the feces of kissing bugs includes fever, fatigue, body aches, rash, diarrhea and vomiting. One of the first visual signs can be a skin lesion or a purplish swelling of the lid of one eye.

More details are offered in an IN News Report:

A Scientific American report indicates that the 300,000 cited in the report are “mostly of immigrant background” and “already live with Chagas disease”. However,researchers warn that residents of the southern US may be at increased risk of infection by the parasite.

“We are finding new evidence that locally acquired human transmission is occurring in Texas,” said Melissa Nolan Garcia, a research associate at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the lead author of two of the three studies.

Garcia is concerned that the number of infected people in the United States is growing and far exceeds the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s estimate of 300,000.

In one pilot study, her team looked at 17 blood donors in Texas who tested positive for the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

“We were surprised to find that 36 percent had evidence of being a locally acquired case,” she said. “Additionally, 41 percent of this presumably healthy blood donor population had heart abnormalities consistent with Chagas cardiac disease.”

Meanwhile, 18,000 nurses in California are now on strike…in part, because they don’t think that their employer is offering enough protective measures against Ebola:

As many as 18,000 nurses went on strike Tuesday and picketed in front of Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California to express their concerns about patient-care standards and Ebola.

The nurses, who are in the midst of contract negotiations, held red and yellow “strike for health and safety” picket signs. The two-day strike was expected to affect at least 21 Kaiser hospitals and 35 clinics and last until 7 a.m. Thursday.

Union officials said nurses are striking over claims there has been an erosion of patient-care standards in Kaiser facilities for months and that the company has failed to adopt optimal safeguards for Ebola.

And while California Hospital Association spokeswoman Jan Emerson-Shea declared that the nurses were using Ebola as a ruse, with the threat of deadly, new infectious diseases increasing, this is one ruse that is based in today’s new healthcare realities.


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