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Published On: Tue, Sep 4th, 2012

Brazil Chagas outbreak linked to consumption of acai berries

An outbreak of Chagas disease in Brazil’s Para state is believed to be due to the consumption of acai berries. In the Para state, 35 people are infected with the parasitic disease. In the city of  Abaetetuba alone, there are 11 recorded cases.

Public domain photo/Frank Krämer

According to a report in the news source, G1 Globo (translated), “We have a recent outbreak in the Abaetetuba municipality. We have about 11 people who are ill, including a man who grinds up acai and 2 people in his family.   We know that this number of ill individuals is going to increase. Health Surveillance and Epidemiology of the municipality is working on the situation and we, as state government officials, are supervising their actions,” explained Elenild Goes, state coordinator for Chagas disease.

Acai is a small (about the size of a grape) black-purple fruit and an important staple for people of the region. Acai berry is a common dietary supplement.

While typically transmitted through the bite of a “kissing bug”, this parasite can also be transmitted via congenital transmission (mother to baby), through blood transfusions and organ transplants, and some cases of transmission through feces contaminated food.

The oral mode of transmission of Chaga’s disease is being increasingly recognized in the region. It is associated with the contamination of fresh food or beverages with intestinal contents of triatomid (kissing) bugs infected from wildlife reservoirs. The insects are accidentally ground up with the acai berries when preparing the drink.

Triatoma infestans, kissing bug

The “kissing bug”, Triatoma infestans, a vector for Chagas disease, “American trypanosomiasis”–Image/CDC

 
 
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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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