SAN ANTONIO -

Six months ago, 17-year-old Christopher Marin was 50 pounds heavier.
Christopher was also running track, playing trumpet in the band and had typical worries of a Brackenridge High School junior.
Then weeks after giving blood at a school blood drive, Christopher was notified that he has a potentially deadly disease that is generally found in South America and Central America.
It’s called Chagas disease, and it’s the No. 1 cause of heart disease and stroke deaths in South America.
Christopher's mother, Dolores Marin, still can’t believe it.
"With him being one of seven in the United States, it's a big shock, " she said.
How Christopher got the disease is a mystery.
Chagas disease is spread by a bite from an inch-long bug that generally bites its victim’s face at night. The bug carries the disease in its blood and transmits it instantly to dogs and humans. The disease attacks major organs, such as the heart.
"On my first appointment, the doctor asked me if I had a living will, and that freaked me out big time, " said Christopher, who begin his first medication this week.
Christopher said he's taking an experimental drug that may cause severe side effects. It’s one of a series of possible treatments sent to his doctor from the Centers from Disease Control.
Until now, animal caregivers have begun to sound the alarm regarding a growing number of dogs that are being diagnosed with the disease as a result of random blood screenings.
It was thought the “kissing bug” was no threat in the United States because it only attacks at night and wasn’t known to jump high enough to reach a bed. The theory by experts is that the bug has begun to be more aggressive in the U.S. and is taking more opportunity to spread the disease.
If by some chance you notice you’ve been bitten, the symptoms of Chagas are somewhat vague.
“It could be the flu, it could be stomach virus," Dolores Marin said. "Another one that they don't talk much about is if it bites you on the face, your face will puff up."
Christopher has some reservations about the drug he's taking.
“It's an experimental medication, so that's what I'm scared of," he said. "I feel like I'm the guinea pig."
Christopher admits his family does not know what the future holds.
For more information on Chagas disease and the insect that causes it, click here.

For a list of recent stories Ursula Pari has done, click here.