Epidemiology and Infection

Review Article

The elimination of Chagas' disease from Brazil

E. MASSADa1 c1

a1 School of Medicine, The University of São Paulo, LIM 01/HCFMUSP, Brazil, and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine London, UK


On 9 June 2006 the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) presented the Minister of Health of Brazil with the International Elimination of Transmission of Chagas' Disease Certificate. This act was the culmination of an intensive process that began in 1991 with the Southern Cone Initiative, a joint agreement between the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru, to control Chagas' disease by the elimination of the main vector, Triatoma infestans. This initiative has been highly successful and the prevalence area of the vector diminished rapidly in the last years. As a consequence, the current seroprevalence in children aged between 0 and 5 years is of the order of 10−5, a clear indication that transmission, if it is occurring, is only accidental. In this review I calculate the basic reproduction number, R0, for Chagas' disease and demonstrate that its relatively low value (1·25) explains why vectorial transmission was interrupted relatively easily. In addition, I used a mathematical model to forecast how long the remaining cases of the disease, as well as the additional vertically transmitted cases will last.

(Accepted October 17 2007)

(Online publication December 04 2007)