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A parasite, largely thought to be asexual, has been shown to reproduce sexually after scientists uncover clues hidden in its genomic code.

Trypanosoma cruzi is the parasite responsible for Chagas Disease, found in Latin America. Around eight million people are currently infected by the disease, which can cause irreversible damage to the heart and digestive tract. 


Chagas disease is mostly spread by insects known as Triatominae, or "kissing bugs", but can also be transmitted by food contaminated with T. cruzi. While some medication can cure patients if given early enough, once the disease is established it is less effective.  

By: Jordan Ramirez Puckett (Student at Ohio University)

Paper MN

Ecology Letters cover, October issue, 2019. Picture credits: Esteban Baus 

 

The belief that mosquito-borne disease thrives in the warmest and wettest weather conditions is a common misconception in held in popular culture and literature.  While temperature is a key factor in the mosquito lifecycle and the rate of disease transmission, warmer weather does not mean an increase in pathogen transmission in all cases.   Through modeling, researchers have shown that the effects of temperature is non-linear.  Diseases such as Zika, dengue, and malaria each have their own optimum temperature for transmission.  Therefore, the question becomes how global warming will affect the spreading of mosquito-based illnesses. 

 

By Elijah Hendrix (Ohio University student and TDR participant)

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 Sunset at Loja province, panoramic view of Cariamanga.

 

I have always felt a connection to service, health, and doing the right thing for the benefit of others and as a Cutler Scholar at Ohio University, I am encouraged to participate in service projects each year and this summer was not the exception.  Through the lectures in my public health class and the conversations I had with my professors, I was able to come to the issue of Neglected Tropical Diseases, specifically, Chagas Disease research in Ecuador.

Throughout my participation in the program, I had many reflection opportunities.  I am able to sum up my experience in three words: learning, community and service.  Before this trip started, I only thought of learning as a one-way street.  For example, in school, a professor stands in front of a classroom of 200 people and there is little to no interaction within the flow of information.  I was prepared to have small talk with the people of the communities that we would be visiting and teach them what I know.  The night before the first day, my cohort and I discussed the importance of sitting back and listening before acting to ensure the most collaboration between our team and the communities.  I did not quite understand the meaning of listening first, but I kept an open mind. 

By Luis E. Mendoza

Dia internacional del Chagas 2

Image: hablemosdechagas

Every April 14 the International Day of People Affected by Chagas Disease is celebrated. However, what few know is that this date also commemorates the discovery of this disease by the Brazilian biologist Carlos Chagas.

This article will share relevant information about Chagas disease, as well as collaborative work between the Center for Research on Health in Latin America (CISeAL), from PUCE, and the Infectious and Tropical Diseases Institute (ITDI), from Ohio University in order to prevent and control this disease.