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Keywords:

  • Chagas disease;
  • Triatoma brasiliensis;
  • sylvatic population;
  • ecology;
  • Trypanosoma cruzi

ABSTRACT:

We assessed some ecological parameters of Triatoma brasiliensis in rock piles in the state of Ceará during the rainy and dry seasons. The greatest density was in April (median = 12.5 triatomines/site). The greatest abundance was in December, when the insects were more dispersed and the density per site was lower (6 triatomines/site). The nutritional status of females and 5th instar nymphs was increased in July. The rate of T. cruzi infection reached its highest peak in July (10.9%). ELISA revealed that the principal food sources were birds (33.1%), followed by armadillos (18.8%). Food sources were more frequently identified during the rainy season. T. brasiliensis specimens collected in the drought tended to: i) present lower rates of T. cruzi infection and gut content reactivity to tested antisera, ii) have a poorer nutritional status, iii) exhibit lower fecundity, iv) be more dispersed among the studied collection sites, and v) be more abundant and easily collected in the surface of the rocks, possibly reflecting an increased searching for blood meals. Such findings underscore epidemiological concerns and allow inferences about the season when triatomines can more frequently invade the peridomestic environment in search of food and recolonize artificial structures.