New research shows how the migration and settlement patterns associated with the rapid urbanization of Peru may link to Chagas disease transmission. The study, published December 15 in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, suggests that the practice of shantytown residents from Arequipa making frequent seasonal moves to rural valleys where Chagas vectors are present may have contributed to the growing presence of Chagas disease near urban Arequipa, Peru.
Chagas disease causes more morbidity and mortality than any other parasitic disease in the Western Hemisphere. Vector-borne transmission occurs only in the Americas, where 8-10 million people currently have the disease. Despite remarkable successes in vector control, major challenges remain, among them the increasing urbanization of the disease.
Therefore, the researchers held discussions with groups of residents from communities around Arequipa to talk about changes in their communities in the past 40 years, including the communities' evolving demographics and the historical and current presence of triatomine insects, known locally as chirimachas. They also conducted interviews with individual residents about their life histories, with a focus on their migration histories, the presence of chirimachas, and animal raising in each place of residence.