(CNN) -- A leading killer in Latin America is tough to treat and some experts are calling it "the new AIDS" of the Americas.

Health authorities say roughly10-million people are infected with Chagasdisease, which kills an estimated 20,000 people each year.

The infection is spread by an insect known as the kissing bug because it likes to bite people on the face while they sleep. When it ingests your blood, it excretes the parasite at the same time. When you wake-up and scratch the itch, the parasite moves into the wound and you're infected.

"I like to call Chagas disease arguably the most important infection you've never heard about- and you've never heard about it because it almost exclusively affects people living in extreme poverty," said Dr. Peter Hotez, of the Baylor College of Medicine.

You can be infected with Chagas for decades before you actually get the severe symptoms of the disease. In the severe stages, you develop an enlarged heart or intestines, that can burst.

Chagas is transmitted primarily by the bug biting you, by pregnant women infecting their children and by people living in areas where it's prevalent donating blood that's not screened.

About 20-percent of people who get infected will go on to get the disease.

There is some disagreement about the danger of Chagas disease in the U.S. Some experts are not concerned, butDr. Hotezpoints out that the kissing bug that carries the disease can be found in southern Texas.

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