Early in the 20th century, the State of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil was rife with malaria. So severe was the epidemic that it sickened hundreds of railroad workers, threatening government efforts to expand Brazil's railway system from the mouth of the Amazon River south to Rio de Janeiro. The government needed a malaria mastermind, someone who could halt the spread of disease and help railway construction resume.
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2009 marks the centennial of the discovery of Chagas disease, named for Carlos Chagas, MD (left), a Brazilian physician who linked clinical symptoms, an insect vector, and an infectious parasite to the syndrome. Triatomine bugs (right), also called kissing bugs because they bite near the lips and eyes, carry the parasite that causes Chagas disease.
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