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Chagas Disease Awareness Among Latin American Immigrants Living in Los Angeles, California

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  • Center of Excellence for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Chagas Disease Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Sylmar, California

Approximately 300,000 persons have Chagas disease in the United States, although almost all persons acquired the disease in Latin America. We examined awareness of Chagas disease among Latin American immigrants living in Los Angeles, California. We surveyed 2,677 persons (age range = 18–60 years) in Los Angeles who resided in Latin America for at least six months. A total of 62% of the participants recalled seeing triatomines in Latin America, and 27% of the participants reported triatomine bites at least once per year while living abroad. A total of 86% of the participants had never heard of Chagas disease. Of persons who had heard of Chagas disease, 81% believed that it was not serious. More than 95% of those who had heard of Chagas disease would want to be tested and treated. Most Latin American immigrants living in Los Angeles recalled exposure to vectors of Chagas disease. However, they have little knowledge of this disease. Increasing awareness of Chagas disease is needed in this high-risk population.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Mahmoud I. Traina, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, 14445 Olive View Drive, Room 2C-121, Sylmar, CA 91342. E-mail: mtraina@dhs.lacounty.gov

Financial support: This study was supported by the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, County of Los Angeles Department of Health Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The sponsors had no role in the design, analysis, or interpretation of data, or in the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.

Authors' addresses: Daniel R. Sanchez, Mahmoud I. Traina, Salvador Hernandez, Aiman M. Smer, and Haneen Khamag, Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, Sylmar, CA, E-mails: dasanchez@mednet.ucla.edu, mitraina@gmail.com, esparabia83@hotmail.com, aimansmer@gmail.com, haneen.khamag@gmail.com. Sheba K. Meymandi, UCLA–David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, E-mail: smeymandi@dhs.lacounty.gov.

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