Research, Chagas

ISGlobal Researchers Help Update the Protocol for Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment of Chagas Disease in Pregnant Women

The new protocol of the Catalan Public Health Agency will improve disease surveillance and control


The Health Department, through the Catalan Public Health Agency (APSCAT), has updated its Protocol for the Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment of Chagas Disease in Latin-American pregnant women and their children. ISGlobal-Hospital Clinic researchers Joaquím Gascón and Irene Losada, have contributed to this process. 

The updated protocol was presented at a workshop organised by the APSCAT on December 13 and inaugurated by the Public Health Secretary Joan Guix and the Subdirector of Surveillance and Response to Public Health Emergencies, Mireia Jané. The workshop, in which Gascón and Losada participated, discussed progress made and remaining challenges in surveillance and control of the disease in Catalonia, particularly regarding congenital Chagas (transmitted from mother to child).   

“This is a pioneer program in non-endemic countries, which includes screening all pregnant women coming from areas where transmission is mediated by the vector,” explains Gascón. “This improvement will help advance towards the elimination of congenital Chagas, in line with the World Health Organisation’s strategy,” he adds. 

The main novelties in the protocol are:

  • Perform a PCR (molecular amplification) test on babies born to positive mothers, one month after birth. This will allow an earlier detection and treatment of the disease.    
  • Follow-up of her other children, once a pregnant woman is diagnosed.
  • Mandatory reporting of Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite causing the disease, to the Microbiological Reporting System of Catalonia. 

The programme’s target population are pregnant women coming from one of the 21 disease-endemic countries, pregnant women whose mothers come from these countries, or pregnant women who have spent more than one month in these countries.  

The estimated prevalence of infection among pregnant women is 2.8% among the Latin-American population (up to 15% in the Bolivian population), and the rate of mother to child transmission is around 3.7%. 

ISGlobal and the Hospital Clinic also participated in elaborating the new information brochure on the disease