SUMMARYThe reservoir capacity of domestic cats and dogs for Trypanosoma cruzi infection and the hostfeeding patterns of domestic Triatoma infestans were assessed longitudinally in 2 infested rural villages in north-western Argentina. A total of 86 dogs and 38 cats was repeatedly examined for T. cruzi infection by serology and/or xenodiagnosis. The composite prevalence of infection in dogs (60%), but not in cats, increased significantly with age and with the domiciliary density of infected T. infestans. Dogs and cats had similarly high forces of infection, prevalence of infectious hosts (41-42%), and infectiousness to bugs at a wide range of infected bug densities. The infectiousness to bugs of seropositive dogs declined significantly with increasing dog age and was highly aggregated. Individual dog infectiousness to bugs was significantly autocorrelated over time. Domestic T. infestans fed on dogs showed higher infection prevalence (49%) than those fed on cats (39%), humans (38%) or chickens (29%) among 1085 bugs examined. The basic reproduction number of T. cruzi in dogs was at least 8·2. Both cats and dogs are epidemiologically important sources of infection for bugs and householders, dogs nearly 3 times more than cats.
Genetic diversity of Trypanosoma cruzi populations and parasite transmission dynamics have been well documented throughout the Americas, but few studies have been conducted in the Gran Chaco ecoregion, one of the most highly endemic areas for Chagas disease, caused by T. cruzi. In this study we assessed the distribution of T. cruzi lineages (identified by PCR strategies) in Triatoma infestans, domestic dogs, cats, humans and sylvatic mammals from two neighboring rural areas with different histories of transmission and vector control in northern Argentina. Lineage II predominated among the 99 isolates characterized and lineage I among the six isolates obtained from sylvatic mammals. Trypanosoma cruzi lineage IIe predominated in domestic habitats; it was found in 87% of 54 isolates from Tr. infestans, in 82% of 33 isolates from dogs, and in the four cats found infected. Domestic and sylvatic cycles overlapped in the study area in the late 1980s, when intense domestic transmission occurred, and still overlap marginally. The introduction of T. cruzi from sylvatic into domestic habitats is likely to occur very rarely in the current epidemiological context. The household distribution of T. cruzi lineages showed that Tr. infestans, dogs and cats from a given house compound shared the same parasite lineage in most cases. Based on molecular evidence, this result lends further support to the importance of dogs and cats as domestic reservoir hosts of T. cruzi. We believe that in Argentina, this is the first time that lineage IIc has been isolated from naturally-infected domestic dogs and Tr. infestans.
The intergenic region of spliced-leader (SL-IR) genes from 105 Trypanosoma cruzi I (Tc I) infected biological samples, culture isolates and stocks from 11 endemic countries, from Argentina to the USA were characterised, allowing identification of 76 genotypes with 54 polymorphic sites from 123 aligned sequences. On the basis of the microsatellite motif proposed by Herrera et al. (2007) to define four haplotypes in Colombia, we could classify these genotypes into four distinct Tc I SL-IR groups, three corresponding to the former haplotypes Ia (11 genotypes), Ib (11 genotypes) and Id (35 genotypes); and one novel group, Ie (19 genotypes). Genotypes harboring the Tc Ic motif were not detected in our study. Tc Ia was associated with domestic cycles in southern and northern South America and sylvatic cycles in Central and North America. Tc Ib was found in all transmission cycles from Colombia. Tc Id was identified in all transmission cycles from Argentina and Colombia, including Chagas cardiomyopathy patients, sylvatic Brazilian samples and human cases from French Guiana, Panama and Venezuela. Tc Ie gathered five samples from domestic Triatoma infestans from northern Argentina, nine samples from wild Mepraia spinolai and Mepraia gajardoi and two chagasic patients from Chile and one from a Bolivian patient with chagasic reactivation. Mixed infections by Tc Ia + Tc Id, Tc Ia + Tc Ie and Tc Id + Tc Ie were detected in vector faeces and isolates from human and vector samples. In addition, Tc Ia and Tc Id were identified in different tissues from a heart transplanted Chagas cardiomyopathy patient with reactivation, denoting histotropism. Trypanosoma cruzi I SL-IR genotypes from parasites infecting Triatoma gerstaeckeri and Didelphis virginiana from USA, T. infestans from Paraguay, Rhodnius nasutus and Rhodnius neglectus from Brazil and M. spinolai and M. gajardoi from Chile are to our knowledge described for the first time.
BackgroundThe Gran Chaco ecoregion, a hotspot for Chagas and other neglected tropical diseases, is home to >20 indigenous peoples. Our objective was to identify the main ecological and sociodemographic determinants of house infestation and abundance of Triatoma infestans in traditional Qom populations including a Creole minority in Pampa del Indio, northeastern Argentina.MethodsA cross-sectional survey determined house infestation by timed-manual searches with a dislodging aerosol in 386 inhabited houses and administered questionnaires on selected variables before full-coverage insecticide spraying and annual vector surveillance. We fitted generalized linear models to two global models of domestic infestation and bug abundance, and estimated coefficients via multimodel inference with model averaging.Principal FindingsMost Qom households were larger and lived in small-sized, recently-built, precarious houses with fewer peridomestic structures, and fewer livestock and poultry than Creoles’. Qom households had lower educational level and unexpectedly high residential mobility. House infestation (31.9%) was much lower than expected from lack of recent insecticide spraying campaigns and was spatially aggregated. Nearly half of the infested houses examined had infected vectors. Qom households had higher prevalence of domestic infestation (29.2%) than Creoles’ (10.0%), although there is large uncertainty around the adjusted OR. Factors with high relative importance for domestic infestation and/or bug abundance were refuge availability, distance to the nearest infested house, domestic insecticide use, indoor presence of poultry, residential overcrowding, and household educational level.Conclusions and SignificanceOur study highlights the importance of sociodemographic determinants of domestic infestation such as overcrowding, education and proximity to the nearest infested house, and corroborates the role of refuge availability, domestic use of insecticides and household size. These factors may be used for designing improved interventions for sustainable disease control and risk stratification. Housing instability, household mobility and migration patterns are key to understanding the process of house (re)infestation in the Gran Chaco.
BackgroundEstablishing the sources of reinfestation after residual insecticide spraying is crucial for vector elimination programs. Triatoma infestans, traditionally considered to be limited to domestic or peridomestic (abbreviated as D/PD) habitats throughout most of its range, is the target of an elimination program that has achieved limited success in the Gran Chaco region in South America.Methodology/Principal FindingsDuring a two-year period we conducted semi-annual searches for triatomine bugs in every D/PD site and surrounding sylvatic habitats after full-coverage spraying of pyrethroid insecticides of all houses in a well-defined rural area in northwestern Argentina. We found six low-density sylvatic foci with 24 T. infestans in fallen or standing trees located 110–2,300 m from the nearest house or infested D/PD site detected after insecticide spraying, when house infestations were rare. Analysis of two mitochondrial gene fragments of 20 sylvatic specimens confirmed their species identity as T. infestans and showed that their composite haplotypes were the same as or closely related to D/PD haplotypes. Population studies with 10 polymorphic microsatellite loci and wing geometric morphometry consistently indicated the occurrence of unrestricted gene flow between local D/PD and sylvatic populations. Mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite sibship analyses in the most abundant sylvatic colony revealed descendents from five different females. Spatial analysis showed a significant association between two sylvatic foci and the nearest D/PD bug population found before insecticide spraying.ConclusionsOur study shows that, despite of its high degree of domesticity, T. infestans has sylvatic colonies with normal chromatic characters (not melanic morphs) highly connected to D/PD conspecifics in the Argentinean Chaco. Sylvatic habitats may provide a transient or permanent refuge after control interventions, and function as sources for D/PD reinfestation. The occurrence of sylvatic foci of T. infestans in the Gran Chaco may pose additional threats to ongoing vector elimination efforts.
The relative impact of two community-based vector control strategies on house infestation by Triatoma infestans and Trypanosoma cruzi infection in bugs, domestic dogs and cats was assessed in two neighboring rural areas comprising 40 small villages and 323 houses in one of the regions most endemic for Chagas disease in northern Argentina. The prevalence and abundance of domestic infestation were 1.5-and 6.5-fold higher, respectively, in the area under pulsed, non-supervised control actions operating under the guidelines of the National Vector Control Program (NCVP) than in the area under sustained, supervised surveillance carried out jointly by the UBA research team and NCVP. The prevalence of infestation and infection varied widely among village groups within each area. In the pulsed control area, the prevalence of infection in bugs, dogs and cats was two-to three-fold higher than in the area under sustained surveillance, most of the infected animals qualified as autochthonous cases, and evidence of recent transmission was observed. Infection was highly aggregated at the household level and fell close to the 80/20 rule. Using multiple logistic regression analysis clustered by household, infection in dogs was associated positively and significantly with variables reflecting local exposure to infected T. infestans, thus demonstrating weak performance of the vector surveillance system. For high-risk areas in the Gran Chaco region, interruption of vectormediated domestic transmission of T. cruzi requires residual insecticide spraying that is more intense, of a higher quality and sustained in time, combined with community participation and environmental management measures.
This study applied improved DNA extraction and polymerase chain reaction strategies for screening and identification of Trypanosoma cruzi lineages directly from faeces of triatomines collected in a well-defined rural area in northwestern Argentina. Amplification of the variable regions of the kinetoplastid minicircle genome (kDNA-PCR) was performed in faecal lysates from 33 microscope (MO)-positive and 93 MO-negative Triatoma infestans, 2 MO-positive and 38 MO-negative Triatoma guasayana and 2 MO-positive and 73 MO-negative Triatoma garciabesi. kDNA-PCR detected T. cruzi in 91% MO-positive and 7.5% MO-negative T. infestans, which were confirmed by amplification of the minicircle conserved region. In contrast, kDNA-PCR was negative in all faecal samples from the other triatomine species. A panel of PCR-based genomic markers (intergenic region of spliced-leader DNA, 24Salpha and 18S rRNA genes and A10 sequence) was implemented to identify the parasite lineages directly in DNA lysates from faeces and culture isolates from 28 infected specimens. Two were found to be infected with TCI, 24 with TCIIe, 1 with TCIId and 1 revealed a mixed TCI+TCII infection in the faecal sample whose corresponding culture only showed TCII, providing evidence of the advantages of direct typing of biological samples. This study provides an upgrade in the current diagnosis and lineage identification of T. cruzi in field-collected triatomines and shows T. cruziII strains as predominant in the region.
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