Despite its amorous nickname, the vinchuca, or “kissing bug,” actually gives its sleeping victims a malevolent bite — sucking blood and transmitting a microscopic parasite called Tripanisoma cruzi.
The microbe, in turn, produces Chagas disease, which currently afflicts 16 million people in South America and will kill a quarter of them in middle age.
This program travels into the mountain villages of Bolivia to see first-hand the effects of Chagas. Some drugs can cure it early on, but once the parasite is well-established in the heart and intestines, the host will almost certainly die.
The film also visits San Francisco, where the Institute for One-World Health is partnering with the pharmaceutical company Celera to distribute K777, a more effective cure.
This film is part of the KILL OR CURE series of 57 x 25-minute documentaries produced for the BBC. These films can be bought individually or as a series.