Parasitic interactions among Trypanosoma cruzi, triatomine vectors, domestic animals, and wildlife in Big Bend National Park along the Texas-Mexico border. Academic Article uri icon


  • National parks attract millions of visitors each year. Park visitors, employees, and pets are at risk of infection with various zoonotic pathogens, including Trypanosoma cruzi, causative agent of Chagas disease. Big Bend National Park is located along the Texas-Mexico border in a region with endemic triatomine insects- vectors of T. cruzi- yet the degree to which the parasite is transmitted in this region is unknown. We collected triatomines for T. cruzi detection and discrete typing unit (DTU) determination, and conducted blood meal analyses to determine recent hosts. As an index of domestic/peridomestic transmission, we tested residential dogs in the Park for exposure to T. cruzi. From 2015 to 2017, 461 triatomines of three species-Triatoma rubida, Triatoma gerstaeckeri, and Triatoma protracta-were collected in and around the Park. Adult triatomine encounters peaked in June of each year (52.8% of collections). We detected an overall infection prevalence of 23.1% in adult triatomines (n=320) and 4.2% in nymph triatomines (n=24). DTU TcI was the only T. cruzi strain detected. Of 89 triatomines subjected to blood meal analyses, vertebrate host DNA was successfully amplified from 42 (47.2%); blood meal sources included humans, domestic animals, and avian and mammalian wildlife species. Tested dogs were considered positive if reactive on at least two independent serologic assays; we found 28.6% seroprevalence in 14 dogs. These findings reveal interactions between infected triatomines, humans, dogs, and wildlife in and around Big Bend National Park, with potential risk of human disease.

published proceedings

  • Acta Trop

altmetric score

  • 1.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Curtis-Robles, R., Meyers, A. C., Auckland, L. D., Zecca, I. B., Skiles, R., & Hamer, S. A.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Curtis-Robles, Rachel||Meyers, Alyssa C||Auckland, Lisa D||Zecca, Italo B||Skiles, Raymond||Hamer, Sarah A

publication date

  • January 2018