Surveillance and outbreak reports Open Access
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Chagas disease, endemic in Latin America, is an emerging health problem in Europe affecting an estimated 80,000 persons. Around 60,000 Latin American migrants live in Switzerland, and cases of Chagas disease have been reported since 1979. As of June 2011, 258 cases have been diagnosed, mostly adults in the indeterminate phase of the chronic stage of the disease. Vertical transmission has been identified and there is a high potential for blood- and organ-borne transmission in the absence of systematic screening. Major challenges include (i) raising awareness among migrants and healthcare professionals, (ii) developing national protocols for screening and treatment targeting high-risk groups such as pregnant woman, newborns, migrants from highly endemic areas (e.g. Bolivia), and immunocompromised migrants, (iii) preventing blood- and organ-borne transmission by appropriate screening strategies, (iv) taking into account the social vulnerability of individuals at risk in the design and implementation of public health programmes, and (v) facilitating contacts with the communities at risk through outreach programmes, for example in churches and cultural groups.


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