Treatment is urgently indicated for anyone during the acute phase and for those in whom the infection has been reactivated. In these situations, treatment is almost 100% effective, and the disease can be completely cured.
During the acute phase, Chagas disease can be treated with two antiparasitic medicines: benznidazole* and nifurtimox*. Both medicines are nearly 100% effective in curing the disease if given soon after infection, including the cases of congenital transmission. The efficacy of both diminishes, however, the longer a person has been infected, and the risk of adverse reactions increases with age.
Once Chagas disease reaches the chronic phase, medications won’t cure the disease, but they may help slow the progression of the disease and its most serious complications. Adults, especially those with the indeterminate form of the disease, should be offered treatment, but its potential benefits in preventing or delaying the development of Chagas disease should be weighed against the long duration and frequent adverse events.
During the late chronic phase, when cardiac or digestive manifestations may occur, additional lifelong medical treatment and surgery are usually indicated.
*Benznidazole and nifurtimox should not be taken by pregnant women or by people with kidney or liver failure. Nifurtimox is also contraindicated for people with a background of neurological or psychiatric disorders.