Content continues after advertisement

Trypanosoma cruzi Infection: The Kissing (Bug) Disease

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

Sign in to Print/View PDF

Trypanosoma cruzi is a protozoan parasite known to infect humans, wildlife, and dogs. Infection occurs when hematophagous triatomines (kissing bugs) bite hosts and bugs’ feces enter bite sites or mucous membranes. In humans, this causes Chagas disease. Symptoms of T cruzi infection in humans and dogs include acute myocarditis, chronic heart disease, and sudden death; infection can also be asymptomatic.

Study authors examined the seroprevalence of T cruzi in dogs from 7 Texas shelters. There are enzootic cycles involving infected wildlife reservoirs and domestic dogs across the southern United States; dogs in Texas are at high risk. A total of 205 blood samples were taken, and T cruzi exposure was determined using the Chagas STAT-PAK, a rapid immunochromatographic test. Of those, 18 dogs tested positive, which makes the overall seroprevalence 8.8%. For individual shelters, prevalence ranged 6.7%–13.8%.

Because of shelter dogs’ widespread exposure to T cruzi, these dogs could act as sentinels for assessing transmission risk; however, the importance of dogs as a reservoir host has not been studied in the United States. Further research is needed to evaluate the association between exposure of shelter dogs to T cruzi and the risk for Chagas disease in humans.

Commentary

This study sought to detect the presence of anti-T cruzi antibodies in a population of shelter dogs from Texas. Blood samples were also examined for parasite DNA by 2 PCR methods. No significant differences in seropositivity were noted with regard to location, sex, age, breed, or adoption history. Shelter dogs are a useful population to examine the occurrence of T cruzi infection as an indication of potential risk to humans and owned dogs. Local exposure was likely in these cases as seropositivity was not biased by location or age of the animal, and some of the shelters were in regions where kissing bug vectors are well-established.—John J. Schaefer, DVM, MS, PhD, DACVM

This capsule is part of the One Health Initiative

References

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

All Clinician's Brief content is reviewed for accuracy at the time of publication. Previously published content may not reflect recent developments in research and practice.

Material from Clinician's Brief may not be reproduced, distributed, or used in whole or in part without prior permission of Educational Concepts, LLC. For questions or inquiries please contact us.

Podcasts

Clinician's Brief:
The Podcast
Listen as host Alyssa Watson, DVM, talks with the authors of your favorite Clinician’s Brief articles. Dig deeper and explore the conversations behind the content here.
Clinician's Brief provides relevant diagnostic and treatment information for small animal practitioners. It has been ranked the #1 most essential publication by small animal veterinarians for 9 years.*

*2007-2017 PERQ and Essential Media Studies

© 2022 Educational Concepts, L.L.C. dba Brief Media ™ All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | DMCA Copyright | Privacy Policy | Acceptable Use Policy