Carlos Chagas first described it in 1909. Humans are usually infected because they are bitten by a blood-sucking bug of the subfamily Triatominae. The disease can also be spread by blood transfusion, organ transplantation, or by eating food contaminated with the parasite. Pregnant women may spread it to the fetus.
The disease has four stages. It can be cured by anti-parasitic drugs. Between eight and eleven million people may suffer from the disease, but many do not know they are infected. Strategies of controlling the disease are mostly focused on eliminating the insect vector, and on preventing contamination from other sources.