Chagas disease becoming the "AIDS of the Americas"

The little known Chagas disease is becoming "the new AIDS of the Americas," according to researchers.

They say the shares many similarities with AIDS; Chagas disease is caused by blood-sucking insects, is spread through blood, symptoms take a long time to develop or may in fact never show, but up to a quarter of infected carriers eventually develop potentially fatal enlarged hearts or intestines.

Chagas also has a long incubation time, and is hard or impossible to cure, and because it is a "disease of the poor," little money is spent on prevention or finding new treatments.

The disease infects up to 8 million people in the Americas, and while those sufferers are mainly located in Central America, South America, and Mexico; there are 300,000 people with the disease in the U.S. and the number of carriers is also rising in Europe through immigration from Latin America.