Feeding sources and trypanosome infection index of Rhodnius pallescens in a Chagas disease endemic area of Amador County, Panama

Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo. Mar-Apr 2008;50(2):113-6. doi: 10.1590/s0036-46652008000200009.


The sylvatic triatomine Rhodnius pallescens is considered to be the most important and widespread vector of Trypanosoma cruzi and Trypanosoma rangeli in Panama. However, its behavior and biological characteristics have only been partially investigated. Thus, to achieve sustainable and efficient control over Chagas disease in Panama, a better understanding of the ecology and biology of R. pallescens is essential. In this study we evaluated R. pallescens host feeding sources using a dot-blot assay, and the trypanosome infection index by PCR analysis in a Chagas disease endemic area of central Panama. It was found that in peridomestic palm trees, 20.3% of the examined bugs had fed on opossums (Didelphis marsupialis). However, we observed an increased anthropophagy (25.4%) for those bugs collected inside houses. Considering the domestic and peridomestic habitats as a whole, the proportion of collected R. pallescens infected with trypanosomes was 87.4%. In the two habitats the predominant infection was with T. cruzi (80-90%). Between 47-51% of the analyzed triatomines were infected with T. rangeli. Mixed infections (40-51%) were also detected. These findings provide a better basis for the implementation of a rational control and surveillance program for Chagas disease in regions where R. pallescens is endemic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Chagas Disease / transmission
  • Dogs
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Humans
  • Insect Vectors* / parasitology
  • Insect Vectors* / physiology
  • Mice
  • Opossums
  • Panama
  • Rhodnius* / parasitology
  • Rhodnius* / physiology
  • Trypanosoma