The symptoms of chronic Chagas disease vary depending on which organs are most affected. In most cases, lesions of the heart and/or gastrointestinal tract show the most severe symptoms. Symptoms of chronic Chagas disease may include the following:
While HIV/AIDS slowly attacks the immune system, Chagas disease slowly attacks the heart and gastrointestinal tissues. Other researchers consider such a comparison to be unfounded advertising or a publicity stunt to popularize information about Chagas disease.
Bedbugs that become part of the living conditions of people and their pets (cats, dogs) transmit T. cruzi to them. When T. cruzi is transmitted from bedbugs to humans or animals, and from humans to bedbugs, the life cycle is called the resident cycle. T. cruzi has been reported to be transmitted to humans through blood transfusions, organ transplants, from mother to child through the placenta, by mouth, inhalation, and laboratory instruments if not properly sterilized. Fortunately, these forms of transmission are very rare.
The life cycle of T. cruzi is complex, with several stages of development, both in the host insect (triatomy bug) and in mammalian (human and animal) recipients.