TV & Film Actress Mia Maestro Promotes Awareness Of Fatal Disease

LOS ANGELES (October 9, 2006) — Argentine actress Mia Maestro, who played a lethal spy on TV’s “Alias,” is lending her fame to fight a real killer.

She is trying to bring awareness about Chagas disease, which infects about 12 million people in Central and South America.

Chagas disease can cause high fever, swelling, enlargement of the spleen, liver and lymph nodes, and inflammation of the heart. Most people infected do not get sick, but the disease can be fatal.

It is little known in the United States, where about 100,000 residents have been infected.

“Chagas is a disease that I grew up hearing about because my mom is from the north of Argentina,” Maestro told The Associated Press on Saturday. “I’m very familiar with it, but I had no idea few people know about it. So whatever I can do to raise awareness, I’ll do it.”

Maestro, 28, has appeared in “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “Frida” and “The Poseidon Adventure.”

She attended Saturday’s screening of the documentary “Chagas: A Hidden Affliction,” which opened the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.

“I call Chagas the AIDS of the poor,” said Ricardo Preve, the film’s director. “It’s a silent killer and we’re not doing anything about it because of a lack of education.”

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