Triatomine Feeding Profiles and Trypanosoma cruzi Infection, Implications in Domestic and Sylvatic Transmission Cycles in Ecuador
Understanding the blood meal patterns of insects that are vectors of diseases is fundamental in unveiling transmission dynamics and developing strategies to impede or decrease human–vector contact. Chagas disease has a complex transmission cycle that implies interactions between vectors, parasites and vertebrate hosts. In Ecuador, limited data on human infection are available; however, the presence of active transmission in endemic areas has been demonstrated. The aim of this study was to
... ine the diversity of hosts that serve as sources of blood for triatomines in domestic, peridomestic and sylvatic transmission cycles, in two endemic areas of Ecuador (central coastal and southern highland regions). Using conserved primers and DNA extracted from 507 intestinal content samples from five species of triatomines (60 Panstrongylus chinai, 17 Panstrongylus howardi, 1 Panstrongylus rufotuberculatus, 427 Rhodnius ecuadoriensis and 2 Triatoma carrioni) collected from 2006 to 2013, we amplified fragments of the cytb mitochondrial gene. After sequencing, blood meal sources were identified in 416 individuals (146 from central coastal and 270 from southern highland regions), achieving ≥ 95% identity with GenBank sequences (NCBI-BLAST tool). The results showed that humans are the main source of food for triatomines, indicating that human–vector contact is more frequent than previously thought. Although other groups of mammals, such as rodents, are also an available source of blood, birds (particularly chickens) might have a predominant role in the maintenance of triatomines in these areas. However, the diversity of sources of blood found might indicate a preference driven by triatomine species. Moreover, the presence of more than one source of blood in triatomines collected in the same place indicated that dispersal of vectors occurs regardless the availability of food. Dispersal capacity of triatomines needs to be evaluated to propose an effective strategy that limits human–vector contact and, in consequence, to decrease the risk of T. cruzi transmission.