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Chagas Disease on the Rise Due to Guinea Pigs

Chagas disease is known for being fatal, but the disease is also known for being extremely hard to actually contract. This is due to the fact that to get infected a person needs to scratch the exact spot where a kissing bug has defected and bit them. The itching causes the parasite in the feces to enter into the skin. This process generally only results in about one of every 1,700 becoming infected.

According to Mikal Watts, scientists therefore are wondering why as many as 40% of all people in certain South American communities have become infected. A study that was published today online suggests that it may be because people consume guinea pigs in the Andean region. The study took a look at Arequipa, Peru where the guinea pigs are regularly eaten. If found that many times the infected kissing bugs are attracted to the pens of guinea pigs and bite the pigs.

Therefore, the guinea pigs continually get bite leading to their eventual infection. Once they become infected they become carriers and can pass the virus onto to those that eat it. Since humans have several large holidays that involve roasting a guinea pig in the region the end result is that they too end up infected.