Across the Americas, triatomine insects harbor diverse strains of Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), agent of Chagas disease. Geographic patterns of vector infection and parasite strain associations, especially in vectors encountered by the public, may be useful in assessing entomological risk, but are largely unknown across the US. We collected Triatoma spp. from across the US (mainly Texas), in part using a citizen science initiative, and amplified T. cruzi DNA to determine infection prevalence and parasite discrete typing units (DTUs). We found 54.4% infection prevalence in 1510 triatomines of 6 species; prevalence in adult T. gerstaeckeri (63.3%; n = 897) and T. lecticularia (66.7%; n = 66) was greater than in T. sanguisuga (47.6%; n = 315), T. indictiva (47.8% n = 67), T. rubida (14.1%; n = 64), and T. protracta (10.5%; n = 19). The odds of infection in adults were 9.73 times higher than in nymphs (95% CI 4.46–25.83). PCR of the spliced leader intergenic region (SL-IR) and/or the putative lathosterol/episterol oxidase TcSC5D gene revealed exclusively T. cruzi DTUs TcI and TcIV; 5.5% of T. cruzi-positive samples were not successfully typed. T. gerstaeckeri (n = 548) were more frequently infected with TcI (53.9%) than TcIV (34.4%), and 11.9% showed mixed TcI/TcIV infections. In contrast, T. sanguisuga (n = 135) were more frequently infected with TcIV (79.3%) than TcI (15.6%), and 5.2% showed mixed infections. Relative abundance of parasite DTUs varied spatially, with both TcI and TcIV co-circulating in vectors in central Texas, while TcIV predominated in northern Texas. Given prior findings implicating TcI in human disease and TcI and TcIV in animal disease in the US, knowledge of spatial distribution of T. cruzi infection and DTUs in vectors is important to understanding public and veterinary health risk of T. cruzi infection.
Curtis-Robles, R., Auckland, L. D., Snowden, K. F., Hamer, G. L., & Hamer, S. A. (2018). Analysis of over 1500 triatomine vectors from across the US, predominantly Texas, for Trypanosoma cruzi infection and discrete typing units. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 58, 171–180. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.meegid.2017.12.016