Açaí fruit can transmit Chagas disease
During this period, 16,807 cases of Chagas disease were reported, and 2,030 of them were confirmed.
Most of the confirmed cases occurred during the second half of each year.Juliana de Meis, immunologist of the Oswaldo Cruz Institute ( IOC-Fiocruz ), in Rio de Janeiro, tells SciDev.Net that further analysis of the data suggests that oral transmission increased much more than other infection routes in that period.
This makes it the second most consumed food in the city during that season.Part of the local production is exported to other regions of Brazil, and further afield to the United States and European countries.Chagas disease is one of the major health problems facing countries and states in the Amazon region, causing disability in infected people and more than 10,000 deaths per year.Cases of the disease are growing systematically, says the second study, specifically in Brazil’s Northern Region.
When the disease evolves to the chronic phase it can cause cardiac and digestive complications.The new studies suggest that people can become infected by consuming açaí when the insect vector, or its faeces, are accidentally mixed with the fruit while blending the juice.The fruit comes into contact with the vector during processing and storage: while kept in open baskets, the açaí fruit ferments and generates carbon dioxide, which attracts the triatomine insect.One of the papers, published this month in Emerging Infectious Diseases, studied ten individuals in the cities of Manaus and Labrea, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, who had symptoms of fever, headaches and general weakness.
De Meis believes that this new study adds to evidence that açaí is one of the main sources of infection by T. cruzi in the region.According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 54 per cent of the national production (800,000 tons of açaí per year) comes from 13,000 producers in the state of Pará.In Belém, the capital of Pará, it is estimated that 200,000 liters of açaí are consumed per day during harvest season ? double the quantity consumed in other seasons.