History of the Discovery of American Trypanosomiasis (chagas disease)

Tania C. de Araujo-Jorge, Jenny Telleria, Jaime Ríos Dalenz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Scopus citations


American trypanosomiasis was named Chagas disease in honor of its discoverer, Carlos Ribeiro Justiniano Chagas, who was born on a coffee farm at Oliveira, State of Minas Gerais, on July 9, 1878. The American trypanosomiasis discovery also was determined by a peculiar health context in Brazil. In the Institute of Manguinhos, Oswaldo Cruz implanted a triad of assistance, research, and education. This public health model remains at Fiocruz, which continues today as an institution of science, technology, and innovation in health linked to the Ministry of Health. Mummies were found in Peru with physical evidence of clinical signs of Chagas disease from which samples of Trypanosoma cruzi DNA were recovered. In Brazil, paleo parasitology studies conducted by Adauto Araujo, Luiz Fernando Ferreira, and others have confirmed T. cruzi DNA in mummies dating back 7000 years. These findings changed the assumptions about the emergence of Chagas disease in the Americas, dating it back to the contact of hunters and gatherers with mammalian reservoirs and insect vectors, much earlier than the period when Andean men started home breeding small animals, as was previously thought.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAmerican Trypanosomiasis
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780123848765
StatePublished - 2010


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