Likely Autochthonous Transmission of Trypanosoma Cruzi to Humans, South Central Texas, USA

Sarah M. Gunter; Kristy O. Murray; Rodion Gorchakov; Rachel Beddard; Susan N. Rossmann; Susan P. Montgomery; Hilda Rivera; Eric L. Brown; David Aguilar; Lawrence E. Widman; Melissa N. Garcia


Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2017;23(3):500-503. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, is a major neglected tropical disease affecting the Americas. The epidemiology of this disease in the United States is incomplete. We report evidence of likely autochthonous vectorborne transmission of T. cruzi and health outcomes in T. cruzi–seropositive blood donors in south central Texas, USA.


Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi infection) is a neglected tropical disease affecting the Americas and a major cause of preventable illness and death, with ≈6–8 million cases worldwide.[1] This disease can cause progressive cardiac damage postinfection in 30% of infected persons without any initial suggestive clinical symptoms. These latent infections can remain quiescent for decades before manifesting as cardiac complications, including cardiomyopathy, heart failure, and rare cardiac arrest.[2]

In 2010, US Food and Drug Administration (Sil-ver Springs, MD, USA) issued final guidelines regard-ing screening of the US blood supply for T. cruzi.[3,4] During 2008–2012, screening results showed that 1 in 6,500 donors from an area covering most of the state of Texas were reactive for T. cruzi antibodies.[5] The origin of infection for these donors was unknown. How-ever, high infection rates for reservoir animals and triato-mine bug vectors in south central Texas suggested that T. cruzi transmission cycles resulting in human infections could occur at a higher frequency than suspected.[6,7] Therefore, we evaluated potential transmission sources and cardiac health of blood donors from south central Texas with T. cruzi antibodies.