Few studies have assessed the burden of Chagas disease in non-endemic countries and most of them are based on prevalence estimates from Latin American (LA) countries that likely differ from the prevalence in migrants living in Europe. The aim of this study was to systematically review the existing data informing current understanding of the prevalence of Chagas disease in LA migrants living in European countries.
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies reporting prevalence of Chagas disease in European countries belonging to the European Union (EU) before 2004 in accordance with the MOOSE guidelines and based on the database sources MEDLINE and Global Health. No restrictions were placed on study date, study design or language of publication. The pooled prevalence was estimated using random effect models based on DerSimonian & Laird method.
We identified 18 studies conducted in five European countries. The random effect pooled prevalence was 4.2% (95%CI:2.2-6.7%); and the heterogeneity of Chagas disease prevalence among studies was high (I2 = 97%,p<0.001). Migrants from Bolivia had the highest prevalence of Chagas disease (18.1%, 95%CI:13.9–22.7%).
Prevalence of Chagas in LA migrants living in Europe is high, particularly in migrants from Bolivia and Paraguay. Data are highly heterogeneous dependent upon country of origin and within studies of migrants from the same country of origin. Country-specific prevalence differs from the estimates available from LA countries. Our meta-analysis provides prevalence estimates of Chagas disease that should be used to estimate the burden of disease in European countries.
Chagas disease is emerging in European countries due to the migration flows from Latin-American endemic countries to Europe, particularly to southern countries. Some studies have evaluated the prevalence of this disease in several European countries although these estimates are based on national population prevalence rates from countries of origin and the estimated size of the corresponding migrant population. The objective of this study is to review the studies about the prevalence of Chagas disease in Latin American migrants living in European countries. Our meta-analysis provides prevalence estimates of Chagas disease that should be used to estimate the burden of disease in European countries. This accurate data about country specific prevalence of Chagas disease could be used to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of screening programmes and also could help policy makers to design health interventions concerning Chagas disease.