The growing immigrant population in the United States presents physicians with the challenge of becoming familiar with formerly uncommon diseases. One example is Chagas disease. Caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, Chagas disease occurs mainly in Latin America, and cardiomyopathy is one of its several symptoms. Existing in 2 phases, acute and chronic, this disease is associated with the highest mortality and morbidity caused by a parasite in the Western Hemisphere.
In “Chagas Cardiomyopathy in New Orleans and the Southeastern United States,” Dr. Hsu and colleagues present 2 cases of immigrants with both types of Chagas disease. They discuss the stages of the disease and its diagnosis, pathology, and treatment. Referencing studies that show that 29%-60% of physicians never considered the risk for Chagas disease in their patient population, the authors conclude that with its wide variety of symptomatic presentations, Chagas disease must be included as a differential diagnosis for patients from endemic areas.