Trypanosoma cruzi-infected triatomines and rodents co-occur in a coastal island of northern Chile

PeerJ. 2020 Oct 14;8:e9967. doi: 10.7717/peerj.9967. eCollection 2020.


Trypanosoma cruzi, the cause agent of Chagas disease, is transmitted mainly by blood-feeding insects of the subfamily Triatominae. The T. cruzi life cycle alternates between triatomines and mammalian hosts, excluding birds and reptiles. Triatomines of Mepraia genus are wild vectors of T. cruzi in Chile. Mepraia specimens infected with T. cruzi have been detected in Pan de Azúcar and Santa María islands. The most common vertebrates that inhabit these islands are birds and reptiles, and it is unknown whether small mammals are present. Consequently, it is relevant to know whether there are any T. cruzi-infected small mammals on those islands to elucidate the T. cruzi cycle. To clarify this crossroads, islands of northern Chile were explored to determine if T. cruzi-infected triatomines and rodents co-occur in islands of northern Chile. T. cruzi DNA was detected by conventional and real-time PCR in three islands: on Santa María and Pan de Azúcar islands T. cruzi was detected in Mepraia sp samples, while on Pan de Azúcar (6.1%) and Damas islands (15%) was detected in the rodent Abrothrix olivacea. We show for the first time in Chile the occurrence of insular rodents infected with T. cruzi, and a complete T. cruzi life cycle in a coastal island. Our results provide new insights to understand the T. cruzi infection in the wild cycle.

Keywords: Hemiptera:Reduviidae; Insular small mammals; Island T. cruzi cycle; Island T. cruzi hosts; Mepraia; T. cruzi life cycle; T. cruzi reservoir in islands; Trypanosoma cruzi.

Grant support

This study was supported by funds from ANID Program FONDECYT N° 11170643 (Ricardo Campos-Soto), FONDECYT N° 1171280 (FernandoTorres-Pérez), ANID Postdoctorado N° 3170799 (Catalina-Muñoz-San Martín) and FONDECYT N° 1170367. There was no additional external funding received for this study. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.