Symptoms of Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis)

Learn about the symptoms of Chagas disease, what to look for and what to do if you become ill.

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What are the symptoms of Chagas disease?

You will experience your first symptoms 1 or more weeks after you have been bitten by an infected triatomine bug. The symptoms can be mild and last up to 2 months. Symptoms may not occur at all.

Chagas disease can be fatal in rare cases.

Primary symptoms may include:

  • swelling around the infected bite
  • swollen eyelids
  • fever
  • headache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • muscle pain
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the heart or brain (this is rare)

If your heart swells, you can suffer from:

  • heart failure
  • an abnormal heart beat

Swelling of the heart and brain usually happens more often in:

  • children
  • the elderly
  • those with weakened immune systems, who have trouble fighting off disease

Once infected, if you are not treated, you will remain infected for years after you experience the primary symptoms. Sometimes, serious life-threatening symptoms appear 10 to 30 years later.

These symptoms could include swelling of the:

  • throat
  • colon
  • heart

What do you do if you become ill?

See a health care provider if you:

  • travelled to an area where Chagas disease is present
  • become ill with any of the listed symptoms

Tell your health care provider:

  • what symptoms you have
  • which countries you visited
  • the types of activities you participated in
  • what accommodations you stayed in
  • what, if any, medical care you received, such as:
    • blood transfusions
    • injections
    • dental care
    • surgery
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