Detection of Trypanosoma cruzi in Animals from Central Texas, USA




Kilgore, Rebecca Jean

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Chagas Disease is one of many neglected tropical diseases shared across North, Central, and South America. Previously considered endemic to only Central and South America it has recently been classified as a reportable disease in Texas and other states in the USA. The causative agent of Chagas is Trypanosoma cruzi, a parasitic protozoan that has been recorded in many mammalian hosts that potentially function as reservoirs. This pathogen is vectored by hematophagous insects in the Reduviidae family, further classified into the subfamily Triatominae, also called Triatomines or Kissing Bugs. The pathogen is typically spread through infected feces of the insect vector excreted onto the host during or after a blood meal. This research analyzed a sampling of insect vectors and potential hosts with different environmental history, i.e. pet dogs (canines) from domiciliary and indoor environments, and rodents from sylvatic and peridomestic outdoor environments as well as domestic environments in the geographic regions of Hays, Guadalupe, and Caldwell County in Central Texas, USA, for Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi). Analyses were performed on DNA extracts from tissue and blood samples with multiple procedures of PCR amplification followed by Sanger sequencing and sequence comparison to sequences of previously identified T. cruzi strains. Presence of the pathogen was detected by qPCR amplification in over 65% of insect vectors examined across multiple seasons of capture. Fewer than 1% of the rodents and none of the dogs harbored T. cruzi. Analysis of these results will provide further information to form management plans regarding prevention strategies to lower transmission events.



Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi, Triatomines, Kissing bugs, Canines, Rodents


Kilgore, R. J. (2020). <i>Detection of Trypanosoma cruzi in animals from Central Texas, USA</i> (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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