- The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,
oa Trypanosoma cruzi (Agent of Chagas Disease) in Sympatric Human and Dog Populations in “Colonias” of the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas
The zoonotic, vector‐borne parasite Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagas disease throughout the Americas, but human and veterinary health burdens in the United States are unknown. We conducted a cross‐sectional prevalence study in indigent, medically underserved human and cohabiting canine populations of seven south Texas border communities, known as colonias. Defining positivity as those samples that were positive on two or more independent tests, we found 1.3% seroprevalence in 233 humans, including one child born in the United States with only short‐duration travel to Mexico. Additionally, a single child with no travel outside south Texas was positive on only a single test. Among 209 dogs, seroprevalence was 19.6%, but adjusted to 31.6% when including those dogs positive on only one test and extrapolating potential false negatives. Parasite DNA was detected in five dogs, indicating potential parasitemia. Seropositive dogs lived in all sampled colonias with no difference in odds of positivity across age, sex, or breed. Colonia residents collected two adult Triatoma gerstaeckeri and one nymph triatomine from around their homes; one of three bugs was infected with T. cruzi, and blood meal hosts were molecularly determined to include dog, human, and raccoon. Dogs and the infected vector all harbored T. cruzi discrete typing unit I, which has previously been implicated in human disease in the United States. Colonias harbor active T. cruzi transmission cycles and should be a priority in outreach and vector control initiatives.
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