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Trypanosoma cruzi load in synanthropic rodents from rural areas in Chile

Yefi-Quinteros, Esteban, Muñoz-San Martín, Catalina, Bacigalupo, Antonella, Correa, Juana P., Cattan, Pedro E.
Parasites & vectors 2018 v.11 no.1 pp. 171
Chagas disease, DNA, Mus musculus, Octodon degus, Phyllotis, Rattus rattus, Trypanosoma cruzi, blood, domestic animals, hosts, humans, parasite load, parasitemia, parasites, public health, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rodents, rural areas, satellite DNA, synanthropes, traps, Chile, Latin America
BACKGROUND: Trypanosoma cruzi is the agent of Chagas disease, a major public health problem in Latin America. Many wild and domestic animals are naturally infected with T. cruzi; rodents are one of the groups which have been consistently detected infected in different countries. The aim of this work was to characterize blood T. cruzi load in naturally infected rodents from a Chagas disease endemic region in Chile. METHODS: Baited traps were set in domestic and peridomestic areas of rural dwellings. The rodents were anesthetized and blood sampled; DNA was extracted and the parasite load was quantified by T. cruzi satellite DNA real-time PCR assays. RESULTS: Seventy-one rodents of four species, Rattus rattus, Mus musculus, Phyllotis darwini and Octodon degus, were captured; R. rattus was the most abundant species. Fifty-nine samples (83.1%) were T. cruzi-positive and the median value of the parasite load was 2.99 parasite equivalents (par-eq)/ml. The comparison of frequency of infection or parasite load by species showed no differences. However, one R. rattus presented very elevated parasitemia (1644 par-eq/ml). CONCLUSIONS: The overall levels of parasitemia were similar to those found in humans in Chile. The high infection levels in exotic and endemic rodents very near to rural settlements increases their relevance as T. cruzi hosts.