Trypanosoma cruzi Transmission Among Captive Nonhuman Primates, Wildlife, and Vectors
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Natural infection of captive nonhuman primates (NHPs) with Trypanosoma cruzi (agent of Chagas disease) is an increasingly recognized problem in facilities across the southern USA, with negative consequences for NHP health and biomedical research. We explored a central Texas NHP facility as a nidus of transmission by characterizing parasite discrete typing units (DTU) in seropositive rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta), identifying the wildlife reservoirs, and characterizing vector infection. In seropositive NHPs, we documented low and intermittent concentrations of circulating T. cruzi DNA, with two DTUs in equal proportions, TcI and TcIV. In contrast, consistently high concentrations of T. cruzi DNA were found in wild mesomammals at the facility, yet rodents were PCR-negative. Strong wildlife host associations were found in which raccoons (Procyon lotor) harbored TcIV and opossums (Didelphis virginiana) harbored TcI, while skunks (Mephitis mephitis) were infected with both DTUs. Active and passive vector surveillance yielded three species of triatomines from the facility and in proximity to the NHP enclosures, with 17% T. cruzi infection prevalence. Interventions to protect NHP and human health must focus on interrupting spillover from the robust sylvatic transmission in the surrounding environment.
author list (cited authors)
Hodo, C. L., Wilkerson, G. K., Birkner, E. C., Gray, S. B., & Hamer, S. A.