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Evolution of the clinical and epidemiological knowledge about Chagas disease 90 years after its discovery

Author(s): Prata Aluízio

Journal: Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
ISSN 0074-0276

Volume: 94;
Issue: suppl.1;
Start page: 81;
Date: 1999;
Original page

Keywords: Chagas disease | heart disease | megaesophagus

Three different periods may be considered in the evolution of knowledge about the clinical and epidemiological aspects of Chagas disease since its discovery: (a) early period concerning the studies carried out by Carlos Chagas in Lassance with the collaboration of other investigators of the Manguinhos School. At that time the disease was described and the parasite, transmitters and reservoirs were studied. The coexistence of endemic goiter in the same region generated some confusion about the clinical forms of the disease; (b) second period involving uncertainty and the description of isolated cases, which lasted until the 1940 decade. Many acute cases were described during this period and the disease was recognized in many Latin American countries. Particularly important were the studies of the Argentine Mission of Regional Pathology Studies, which culminated with the description of the Romaña sign in the 1930 decade, facilitating the diagnosis of the early phase of the disease. However, the chronic phase, which was the most important, continued to be difficult to recognize; (c) period of consolidation of knowledge and recognition of the importance of Chagas disease. Studies conducted by Laranja, Dias and Nóbrega in Bambuí updated the description of Chagas heart disease made by Carlos Chagas and Eurico Villela. From then on, the disease was more easily recognized, especially with the emphasis on the use of a serologic diagnosis; (d) period of enlargement of knowledges on the disease. The studies on denervation conducted in Ribeirão Preto by Fritz Köberle starting in the 1950 decade led to a better understanding of the relations between Chagas disease and megaesophagus and other visceral megas detected in endemic areas.
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