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Science Cafe discussion to combat Chagas Disease

Kissing bugs have nothing to do with spreading love and affection. Triatomines, also known as kissing bugs, are insect vectors that suck the blood of humans and animals, and are often responsible for transmitting Chagas disease.

Ohio University biomedical science professor Mario Grijalva will discuss Chagas disease and some various ways to battle it during his Science Café discussion titled "Combating Tropical Disease through Social Development." The discussion will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Baker University Center Front Room.

"Chagas Disease is a hidden disease," said Grijalva. "It is a disease of poverty found within the most vulnerable of the population. It contributes to keeping its victims in poverty as well."

Kissing bugs are often found in houses made of straw, mud, adobe and palm thatch. The disease is most common in the Americas, especial in the rural regions of Latin America.

In order to alleviate the effects of the diseases, Grijalva, a native of Ecuador, developed the Healthy Living Initiative. Each year he takes a group of Ohio University students to Ecuador to work with the community to improve living conditions.

"Science can be used very effectively as a driver of actions to improve people's lives. This is something that the Healthy Living Initiative has accomplished, and it's pretty great to see," said Grijalva.

Science Cafés are a venue for students interested in the sciences and engineering to share their interests with faculty, staff and the community in a friendly and informal setting.