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Effects of mammal host diversity and density on the infection level of Trypanosoma cruzi in sylvatic kissing bugs

Authors

  • E. ODA,

    1. Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
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  • A. SOLARI,

    1. Programa de Biología Celular y Molecular, Facultad de Medicina, Instituto de Ciencias Biomédicas, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
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  • C. BOTTO-MAHAN

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile
    • Correspondence: Carezza Botto-Mahan, Departamento de Ciencias Ecológicas, Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad de Chile, PO Box 653, Santiago, Chile. Tel.: 56 2 29787392; Fax: 56 2 22727363; E-mail: cbotto@uchile.cl

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Abstract

Several reports have described host species diversity and identity as the most important factors influencing disease risk, producing either dilution or amplification of the pathogen in a host community. Triatomine vectors, mammals and the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi (Trypanosomatida: Trypanosomatidae) Chagas are involved in the wild cycle of Chagas disease, in which infection of mammals occurs by contamination of mucous membranes or skin abrasions with insect-infected faeces. We examined the extent to which host diversity and identity determine the infection level observed in vector populations (i.e. disease risk in humans). We recorded infection in triatomine colonies and on the coexisting host mammalian species in semi-arid Chile. Host diversity, and total and infected host species densities are used as predictor variables for disease risk. Disease risk did not correlate with host diversity changes. However, the densities of each infected rodent species were positively associated with disease risk. We suggest that the infected host density surrounding the vector colonies is a relevant variable for disease risk and should be considered to understand disease dynamics. It is crucial to pay attention on the spatial scale of analysis, considering the pattern of vector dispersal, when the relationship between host diversity and disease risk is studied.

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