This paper reviews the epidemiological status of Chagas disease in Venezuela from its discovery to current time, as well as its efect on the aflicted people. We also do a critical analysis of the unknown prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi, the lack of state policies for its control as a national priority, the inadequately implemented oficial anti-chagasic campaign programs, and the absence of adequate infrastructure and equipment needed for diagnosis of people in rural areas. The circulation and successful adaptation of T. cruzi mammal hosts and vectors from their natural foci to domestic and peridomestic environments, and the frequent migration of T. cruzi-infected people from rural to urban areas, constitute important risk factors for Chagas disease transmission. The repeated misconception that describes Chagas disease as essentially rural is no longer true in Venezuela. The budget adjustment, reducing or eliminating the anti-triatomine spraying activities, and the tendency of sanitary authorities to prioritize other health problems setting Chagas disease in a diferent level of priorities, is also critically reviewed. Gathered together, the above elements lead to consider Chagas disease as a neglected and reemerging infection in Venezuela.
Key Words: Chagas disease; Neglected disease; Reemergent infection; Venezuela
Rafael Rangel-Aldao, Editor
Dr. Añez is Med.Vet-LUZ-, MSc.-ULA-Venezuela, D.I.C., PhD and Post-Doctoral Fellow at Imperial College-University of London-UK. Full Professor at the Faculty of Sciences-ULA. Director of the Laboratory of Parasitological Research, “J.F. Torrealba”, Faculty of Sciences -ULA (1982-). Visiting Professor, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine (1993-1994). Local Secretary for Venezuela of The Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, London, UK (1991- 2.009). Doctor Honoris Causa in Health Science-University “Francisco de Miranda” (2007). National Prize of Science, Technology and Innovation of Venezuela (2017). National Prize to the best Scientific Work on Health Science in Venezuela (2015, 2016). National Prize to the best Scientific Work on Biology in Venezuela (1993, 1999). Regional Prize of Science and Technology 2005-FUNDACITE-Mérida. Prize “Dr. Francisco De Venanzi” in Biological and Medical Sciences-ULA (2001). Research Lines: Bioecological and epidemiological aspects on Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis. Active member of 10 scientific associations. Reviewer of 10 international journals. Teaching activity and thesis supervisor of undergraduate and postgraduate students (1981-). Author of 154 scientific papers, 120 abstracts to congress and 100 conferences on my active research lines. Key research papers: 1. Añez et al. (1999). Myocardial parasite persistence in chronic chagasic patients. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 60 (5):726-732. 2. Añez et al. (2015). A follow up study of chagasic patients with special reference to Trypanosoma cruzi persistence and criteria of Chagas disease cure. Int J Clin Med Res, 2(3):20-29. 3. Añez et al (2020). Update on Chagas disease in Venezuela during the period 2003-2018. A Review. Acta Tropica, 203 105310. http://doi.org/10.106/j.actatropica,2019105310.