Implementation science: Epidemiology and feeding profiles of the Chagas vector <i>Triatoma dimidiata</i> prior to Ecohealth intervention for three locations in Central America

by Raquel Asunción Lima-Cordón, Lori Stevens, Elizabeth Solórzano Ortíz, Gabriela Anaité Rodas, Salvador Castellanos, Antonieta Rodas, Vianney Abrego, Concepción Zúniga Valeriano, María Carlota Monroy

The Ecohealth strategy is a multidisciplinary data-driven approach used to improve the quality of people’s lives in Chagas disease endemic areas, such as regions of Central America. Chagas is a vector-borne disease caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. In Central America, the main vector is Triatoma dimidiata. Because successful implementation of the Ecohealth approach reduced home infestation in Jutiapa department, Guatemala, it was scaled-up to three localities, one in each of three Central American countries (Texistepeque, El Salvador; San Marcos de la Sierra, Honduras and Olopa, Guatemala). As a basis for the house improvement phase of the Ecohealth program, we determined if the localities differ in the role of sylvatic, synanthropic and domestic animals in the Chagas transmission cycle by measuring entomological indices, blood meal sources and parasite infection from vectors collected in and around houses. The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) with taxa specific primers to detect both, blood sources and parasite infection, was used to assess 71 T. dimidiata from Texistepeque, 84 from San Marcos de la Sierra and 568 from Olopa. Our results show that infestation (12.98%) and colonization (8.95%) indices were highest in Olopa; whereas T. cruzi prevalence was higher in Texistepeque and San Marcos de la Sierra (>40%) than Olopa (8%). The blood meal source profiles showed that in Olopa, opossum might be important in linking the sylvatic and domestic Chagas transmission cycle, whereas in San Marcos de la Sierra dogs play a major role in maintaining domestic transmission. For Texistepeque, bird was the major blood meal source followed by human. When examining the different life stages, we found that in Olopa, the proportion bugs infected with T. cruzi is higher in adults than nymphs. These findings highlight the importance of location-based recommendations for decreasing human-vector contact in the control of Chagas disease.

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