Eco-epidemiology of vectorial Trypanosoma cruzi transmission in a region of northeast Brazil

Acta Trop. 2021 Oct 9;106184. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2021.106184. Online ahead of print.


Chagas disease (CD) is a parasitic zoonosis endemic in Brazil. Despite virtual control of Triatoma infestans, the main domesticated vector of Trypanosoma cruzi, vectorial transmission by other triatomine species persists in some rural communities. This study aims to characterize triatomines role in transmitting T. cruzi to dogs and humans in the district of Santo Inácio, located in the northwest region of the state of Bahia, Brazil. It also describes environmental factors in housings associated with insect occurrence and assesses the perception, knowledge, and preventive practices adopted by the population regarding CD. Blood samples of humans and dogs, and biological samples of triatomines, were collected between November 2018 and February 2019 and subjected to the detection of T. cruzi by serological and molecular biology tests. Also, we applied a questionnaire to research the perception, knowledge, and local practices of people related to CD. The capture of triatomines in households was associated with exploratory variables of the questionnaires using multivariate logistic regression (p<0.05). The 155 triatomines captured in the wild and domestic environment were of the species Triatoma sherlocki (n=151), Panstrongylus sherlocki (n=1) and Triatoma sordida (n=3), and had a natural infection rate for T. cruzi by PCR of 18.5%, 100% and 0%, respectively. District residents (n=126) were seronegative for T. cruzi, while 17.5% (7/40) of the dogs were seropositive. The fact that residents are aware that triatomines can "cause" CD was configured as a protection factor for residents according to the fitted logistic regression model (p=0.04). However, respondents have limited perception and knowledge about the CD, prevention and control practices for triatomines in a household. The results suggest the existence of a domestic cycle of transmission of T. cruzi between triatomines and dogs, configuring a latent risk of infection to the human population of Santo Inácio. Studies that clarify the potential for the establishing of intrusive triatomines in households, surveillance actions for triatomines, and health education in rural communities are indispensable to prevent the reemergence of CD in vulnerable regions of Brazil and other American countries with similar epidemiological characteristics.

Keywords: Chagas disease; Hosts; Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practice; Panstrongylus sherlocki; Triatoma sherlocki; Triatoma sordida.