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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
August 27, 2014

Shelter Dogs May Offer Clues to Chagas Disease Risk in Humans

JAMA. 2014;312(8):780. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.9994

Man’s best friend might also be a harbinger of Chagas disease.

The illness, which results from infection with the Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, is a neglected tropical disease that affects about 8 million people across Mexico and Central and South America. Carried by triatomine bugs, also called kissing bugs, the parasite has migrated north into the United States. Estimates of US human infections range from 300 000 to 1 million.

Humans, however, aren’t the only species vulnerable to Chagas disease. So are canines. In Texas, which is 1 of 4 states where human and veterinary Chagas disease cases must be reported, dogs are at high risk for the illness. The state is home to a variety of triatomine species (11 species have been identified in the United States), various reservoir hosts, and documented canine disease cases.