Chagas' disease is an infection with a single celled microscopic animal (the protozoa Trypanosoma cruzi). Also known as American trypanosomiasis, Chagas' disease occurs almost exclusively in Central and South America. Chagas' disease is spread by a bloodsucking assassin bug, the barber beetle. Treatment has no effect unless given early and even the is often unsatisfactory.
Chagas' disease can damage the heart muscle and muscles in the gut sometimes 20 years after the initial infection. This can cause heart disorders and failure, and also cause internal hollow organs like the oesophagus and colon to enlarge (megaviscera). Death is more likely in children than in adults. Prevention is by killing the insects and screening blood used for transfusions, which can also spread it.
Chagas' disease caused 0.03% of all deaths worldwide in 2002, with an average of 2 deaths per million people.