Perspectives

Chagas Disease Is Being Battled By Ohio University Researchers and Students


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Ohio University researchers and students are fighting to prevent the dreaded Chagas disease in Ecuador and its spread to the United States.
Each year, according to the World Health Organization, over 8 million people are infected with Chagas disease mostly in Latin America. However, nearly 300,000 people in the United States are also infected.
The disease kills nearly 20,000 people each year. Additionally, some 15,000 babies are born infected with the disease.
Chagas disease is spread by a parasite called the “kissing bug” and it is prevalent in southern Ecuador. It thrives in rural and overcrowded urban centers, according to Dr. Mario Grijalva, the director of the Infectious and Tropical Disease Institute at Ohio University.
To prevent the spread of the disease, new housing units must be built for families to safely occupy. These units are free of the “kissing bugs.”
Dr. Grijalva’s Institute has partnered with various academic units at Ohio University to raise awareness of Chagas disease and to help raise money to build the new homes. To date, seven homes have been built and plans are to build 60 more over the next two years.
When this project is completed in 2021, enough data will be available to demonstrate whether new housing can act as a viable preventative tactic against this deadly disease.
Multiple colleges and departments of Ohio University are involved in this project of engaged research and service learning. For example, the Scripps College of Communication is providing marketing materials and helping to design a crowd-funding campaign, according to Dean Dr. Scott Titsworth.
Ohio University also is working with the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador (PUCE).
Dr. Titsworth says that this partnership is a perfect example of community engagement on the part of both faculty and students. The work in Ecuador expands students’ world view and provides a real world laboratory for their communication skills, according to Titsworth.
You can read more about this multi-disciplinary effort and how to donate to the cause at the following website. https://www.h3living.org/