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Article

Preliminary Characterization of Triatomine Bug Blood Meals on the Island of Trinidad Reveals Opportunistic Feeding Behavior on Both Human and Animal Hosts

1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
2
Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, St. George’s University, True Blue, Grenada
3
College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City, OK 73117, USA
4
Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies
5
University Honors College, Portland State University, Portland, OR 97207-075, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2020, 5(4), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5040166
Received: 30 September 2020 / Revised: 24 October 2020 / Accepted: 30 October 2020 / Published: 4 November 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue One Health and Neglected Tropical Diseases)
Chagas disease is a neglected tropical disease caused by infection with Trypanosoma cruzi. The parasite is endemic to the Americas, including the Caribbean, where it is vectored by triatomine bugs. Although Chagas disease is not considered a public health concern in the Caribbean islands, studies in Trinidad have found T. cruzi-seropositive humans and T. cruzi-infected triatomine bugs. However, little is known about triatomine bug host preferences in Trinidad, making it difficult to evaluate local risk of vector-borne T. cruzi transmission to humans. To investigate this question, we collected triatomine bugs in Trinidad and diagnosed each one for T. cruzi infection (microscopy and PCR). We then carried out a blood meal analysis using DNA extracted from each bug (PCR and sequencing). Fifty-five adult bugs (54 Panstrongylus geniculatus and one Rhodnius pictipes) were collected from five of 21 sample sites. All successful collection sites were residential. Forty-six out of the 55 bugs (83.6%) were infected with T. cruzi. Fifty-three blood meal hosts were successfully analyzed (one per bug), which consisted of wild birds (7% of all blood meals), wild mammals (17%), chickens (19%), and humans (57%). Of the 30 bugs with human blood meals, 26 (87%) were from bugs infected with T. cruzi. Although preliminary, our results align with previous work in which P. geniculatus in Trinidad had high levels of T. cruzi infection. Furthermore, our findings suggest that P. geniculatus moves between human and animal environments in Trinidad, feeding opportunistically on a wide range of species. Our findings highlight a critical need for further studies of Chagas disease in Trinidad in order to estimate the public health risk and implement necessary preventative and control measures. View Full-Text
Keywords: chagas disease; Trypanosoma cruzi; triatomine bugs; Panstrongylus geniculatus; Rhodnius pictipes; Trinidad and Tobago; West Indies; vector host-feeding preferences; blood meal analysis chagas disease; Trypanosoma cruzi; triatomine bugs; Panstrongylus geniculatus; Rhodnius pictipes; Trinidad and Tobago; West Indies; vector host-feeding preferences; blood meal analysis
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hylton, A.; Fitzpatrick, D.M.; Suepaul, R.; Dobson, A.P.; Charles, R.A.; Peterson, J.K. Preliminary Characterization of Triatomine Bug Blood Meals on the Island of Trinidad Reveals Opportunistic Feeding Behavior on Both Human and Animal Hosts. Trop. Med. Infect. Dis. 2020, 5, 166. https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5040166

AMA Style

Hylton A, Fitzpatrick DM, Suepaul R, Dobson AP, Charles RA, Peterson JK. Preliminary Characterization of Triatomine Bug Blood Meals on the Island of Trinidad Reveals Opportunistic Feeding Behavior on Both Human and Animal Hosts. Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease. 2020; 5(4):166. https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5040166

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hylton, Alexandra, Daniel M. Fitzpatrick, Rod Suepaul, Andrew P. Dobson, Roxanne A. Charles, and Jennifer K. Peterson 2020. "Preliminary Characterization of Triatomine Bug Blood Meals on the Island of Trinidad Reveals Opportunistic Feeding Behavior on Both Human and Animal Hosts" Tropical Medicine and Infectious Disease 5, no. 4: 166. https://doi.org/10.3390/tropicalmed5040166

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