Neglected diseases

Chagas disease

“Bayer and the WHO have been partners since 2004 in the fight against Chagas disease.”
  • Dr. Jean Jannin, World Health Organization, Switzerland

Chagas – The underestimated danger

According to World Health Organization (WHO) about ten million people are infected with Chagas disease, and more than 10,000 die each year. The disease is widespread, especially in Latin America, where almost a quarter of the population are affected in some areas. The effects are dramatic, both for patients and their families and for the economic performance of the countries affected. The WHO estimates the productivity losses caused by Chagas disease at 1.2 billion dollars per annum.

Early treatment can save lives

The assassin bug Triatoma infestans, the most common carrier of Chagas disease, is especially widespread in the north of Latin America, Central America and Mexico.
The assassin bug Triatoma infestans, the most common carrier of Chagas disease, is especially widespread in the north of Latin America, Central America and Mexico.

The pathogen – the single-cell parasite Trypanosoma cruzi – is spread by assassin bugs, which find ideal living conditions in the cracks of unplastered mud huts. This means that people in simple living conditions are most at risk.

Minor, flu-like symptoms appear directly after infection. However, they are so non-specific that they are often misinterpreted – yet the disease is completely curable with drugs at this stage. About two months later, Chagas disease enters a chronic stage that progresses for years, leading to severe organ damage and finally to sudden cardiac death.

Education and early diagnosis and treatment are key in the fight against Chagas disease.

Bayer supports the WHO in the fight against Chagas disease

Bayer supplies the WHO with a drug containing an active ingredient called nifurtimox to treat Chagas disease. Nifurtimox is on the WHO’s list of "Essential Medicines." Bayer, the only manufacturer of nifurtimox worldwide, has given the WHO a permanent supply guarantee for the drug.

Since 2004 Bayer has furthermore been supporting the WHO in the fight against Chagas disease with drugs and financial assistance for logistics and distribution. In 2011 the agreement was renewed early, doubling the number of tablets provided to 1 million per year. At the same time, Bayer is researching a special dosage for children, since they are particularly vulnerable.

To read the full report click here.

World distribution of Chagas disease cases, 2006-2010
  • Source: Substaining the drive to overcome the global impact of neglected diseases: Second WHO report on tropical diseases (2013)