Chagas Disease in the United States and the Prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi in Southern California Woodrats
Trypanosoma cruzi is the protozoan parasite that causes Chagas disease. Millions of people are infected with the incurable disease and it is estimated that thousands die from Chagas every year. It is thought that all triatomine, which are almost exclusive to the Americas, are capable of being a disease vector and all mammals can be a host of the parasite. Parasites are transmitted from wildlife to man primarily in Latin America, but due to migration, blood transfusions, organ donations, and vertical transmission, the disease now exists worldwide. In addition to Latin America, autochthonous transmission has occurred in North America. Most of the reports of T. cruzi in the United States wildlife are from the southwest where the primary mammalian host is the woodrat. The health of 55 southern California N. fuscipes woodrats was evaluated by PCR using the TCZ1/TCZ2 primer set. None of the woodrats tested were found to be infected with the T. cruzi parasite.