Chagas disease is a tropical parasitic disease endemic to Latin America which affects more than 10 million people, and kills more than 15,000 people each year. This condition, caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is principally transmitted by kissing bugs (Triatominae). In Bolivia, recent reports by the Departmental Health Service showed the presence of Panstrongylus rufotuberculatus in dwellings located in the Charazani Valley (La Paz). A study was then carried out in the area to evaluate the degree of domiciliation of this species, and its possible role in the transmission of Chagas disease. In seven communities, 108 dwellings were visited to actively search for the bugs and 217 people participated in a serological study to determine the prevalence of Chagas disease in the population. Nymphs and adults belonging to two species: Panstrongylus geniculatus (5 insects, 1.5%) and P. rufotuberculatus (344 insects, 98.5%) were collected. One P. rufotuberculatus was captured in a bed, while all the other specimens of this species were found in kitchens in which guinea pigs were being reared. A large bug colony has been encountered in a kitchen environment, with more than 300 specimens of all stages. None of the 201 analyzed bugs was positive for T. cruzi. The seroprevalence of Chagas disease in the human population was low (1.3%); no evidence of a local vectorial transmission was found. In conclusion, for the time being there is no evidence of vectorial transmission of Chagas disease in the region. The possible association between reared guinea pigs and the bugs is discussed. The presence of infected people, the migratory movement of the human population and the relatively high colonization process demonstrate that the region needs to be regularly controlled to prevent the area from becoming a local source of Chagas transmission.
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We thank all the people who participated in the study: teams of INLASA and SEDES La Paz for their help in the field. We are grateful to M. Ramírez and F. Ghezzi for their careful reading of the paper. We are grateful to the following for logistic or financial support: Ministry of Public Health and Sports (Project of Fight against Great Endemics), Bolivia; SEDES La Paz; IRD.
- Guinea pigs
- Medical importance
- Panstrongylus geniculatus
- Panstrongylus rufotuberculatus