, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 130–143 | Cite as

The Prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi, the Causal Agent of Chagas Disease, in Texas Rodent Populations

  • Adriana Aleman
  • Trina Guerra
  • Troy J. Maikis
  • Matthew T. Milholland
  • Ivan Castro-ArellanoEmail author
  • Michael R. J. Forstner
  • Dittmar Hahn
Original Contribution


Rodent species were assessed as potential hosts of Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, from five sites throughout Texas in sylvan and disturbed habitats. A total of 592 rodents were captured, resulting in a wide taxonomic representation of 11 genera and 15 species. Heart samples of 543 individuals were successfully analyzed by SybrGreen-based quantitative PCR (qPCR) targeting a 166 bp fragment of satellite DNA of T. cruzi. Eight rodents representing six species from six genera and two families were infected with T. cruzi. This is the first report of T. cruzi in the pygmy mouse (Baiomys taylori) and the white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) for the USA. All infected rodents were from the southernmost site (Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area). No differences in pathogen prevalence existed between disturbed habitats (5 of 131 tested; 3.8%) and sylvan habitats (3 of 40 tested; 7.5%). Most positives (n = 6, 16% prevalence) were detected in late winter with single positives in both spring (3% prevalence) and fall (1% prevalence). Additionally, 30 Triatoma insects were collected opportunistically from sites in central Texas. Fifty percent of these insects, i.e., 13 T. gerstaeckeri (68%), and two T. lecticularia (100%) were positive for T. cruzi. Comparative sequence analyses of 18S rRNA of samples provided identical results with respect to detection of the presence or absence of T. cruzi and assigned T. cruzi from rodents collected in late winter to lineage TcI. T. cruzi from Triatoma sp. and rodents from subsequent collections in spring and fall were different, however, and could not be assigned to other lineages with certainty.


Trypanosomes Sylvatic cycle USA endemic pathogen Rodent hosts Triatomidae 



Collection and handling of rodents was covered by Texas State University IACUC permit 1206_0113_02. We are grateful to Dr. J.M. Ramsey Willoquet, Regional Center for Public Health Research, National Institute for Public Health Research, Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico, for providing DNA of T. cruzi ITRI/MX/99/Cari-006, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for financial support (NIFA 201 3-70001-20524).


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Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adriana Aleman
    • 1
  • Trina Guerra
    • 1
  • Troy J. Maikis
    • 1
  • Matthew T. Milholland
    • 1
  • Ivan Castro-Arellano
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael R. J. Forstner
    • 1
  • Dittmar Hahn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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