Which mammals are infected with T cruzi?

Updated: Apr 26, 2019
  • Author: Louis V Kirchhoff, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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T cruzi infection has been found in more than 100 mammalian species throughout the range mentioned above, which includes the southern and southwestern United States. Mammals typically involved in sylvatic cycles of transmission include opossums, armadillos, raccoons, monkeys, wood rats, and coyotes, among many others. [21, 22, 23]

Pets such as dogs and cats can become infected in enzootic regions, likely as they eat parasitemic prey or ingest infected insects. [24, 25, 26, 27] It is of interest that Carlos Chagas observed T cruzi in the blood of wild marmosets and a domestic cat before he discovered the parasite in the blood of his first infected patient, Berenice. [2] In some situations, dogs have been shown to be an important link in the maintenance of the domiciliary cycle and consequent transmission to humans. [28]

Livestock have occasionally been found to be infected with T cruzi, but the parasite is not known to adversely affect their health. Birds, amphibians, and reptiles are naturally resistant to T cruzi infection. In some situations, however, birds may be important sources of blood meals for triatomines.

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