Prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi and Leishmania chagasi infection and risk factors in a Colombian indigenous population

Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. Jul-Aug 1999;41(4):229-34. doi: 10.1590/s0036-46651999000400005.


This study was carried out in order to obtain base-line data concerning the epidemiology of American Visceral Leishmaniasis and Chagas' Disease in an indigenous population with whom the government is starting a dwelling improvement programme. Information was collected from 242 dwellings (1,440 people), by means of house to house interviews about socio-economic and environmental factors associated with Leishmania chagasi and Trypanosoma cruzi transmission risk. A leishmanin skin test was applied to 385 people and 454 blood samples were collected on filter paper in order to detect L. chagasi antibodies by ELISA and IFAT and T. cruzi antibodies by ELISA. T. cruzi seroprevalence was 8.7% by ELISA, L. chagasi was 4.6% and 5.1% by IFAT and ELISA, respectively. ELISA sensitivity and specificity for L. chagasi antibodies were 57% and 97.5% respectively, as compared to the IFAT. Leishmanin skin test positivity was 19%. L. chagasi infection prevalence, being defined as a positive result in the three-immunodiagnostic tests, was 17.1%. Additionally, 2.7% of the population studied was positive to both L. chagasi and T. cruzi, showing a possible cross-reaction. L. chagasi and T. cruzi seropositivity increased with age, while no association with gender was observed. Age (p<0.007), number of inhabitants (p<0. 05), floor material (p<0.03) and recognition of vector (p<0.01) were associated with T. cruzi infection, whilst age ( p<0.007) and dwelling improvement (p<0.02) were associated with L. chagasi infection. It is necessary to evaluate the long-term impact of the dwelling improvement programme on these parasitic infections in this community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Chagas Disease / epidemiology*
  • Chagas Disease / transmission
  • Colombia / epidemiology
  • Disease Vectors
  • Dogs
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Leishmania*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / epidemiology*
  • Leishmaniasis, Visceral / transmission
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Trypanosoma cruzi*