Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Dogs may help collar Chagas disease: Researchers propose new ways to combat prevalent public health challenge

Date:
July 12, 2010
Source:
Emory University
Summary:
Chagas disease affects 10 to 12 million people in Latin America, killing more than 15,000 a year. It is caused by a parasite that roams with only limited control among the rural poor in Latin America. Researchers have found that dogs are important vectors in both the spread of the disease and the potential to help control it, and can make good sentinels for health officials monitoring T. cruzi transmission.

Chagas disease, for example, is caused by a parasite that roams with only limited control among the rural poor in Latin America. The main vector for the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the triatomine insect, or "kissing bug," which thrives in the nooks and crannies of mud-brick dwellings. The bug sucks the blood of mammals, helping T. cruzi move between wildlife, cats, dogs and humans.

Related Articles


"Dogs tend to lie on porches or other areas easily accessible to the bugs," says disease ecologist Uriel Kitron, chair of environmental studies at Emory University. "And when a dog is malnourished and its immune system isn't great, they are even more at risk."

Kitron has been researching Chagas disease in remote communities of northern Argentina for the past 10 years. "One of our most significant findings is the importance of dogs in both the spread of the disease, and the potential to help control it," he says, explaining that dogs can make good sentinels for health officials monitoring T. cruzi transmission.

Chagas disease begins as an acute infection that can subside on its own. In one out of three cases, however, the infection persists and can go unnoticed for decades, until it causes complications such as heart failure, digestive problems and sudden cardiac death. The condition affects 10 to 12 million people in Latin America, killing more than 15,000 a year.

Human migration has moved Chagas disease around the globe: U.S. blood banks must now screen donors for T. cruzi. And bugs travel hidden in people's luggage to new places such as Patagonia in southern Argentina.

Kitron is collaborating with Ricardo Gόrtler of the University of Buenos Aires on a research project funded through a joint NIH-NSF program on the ecology of infectious diseases. Their work in Argentina's Chaco province is included in a June 24 special supplement of Nature, devoted to the topic of Chagas disease.

"We are interested in answering scientific questions, but we also want to help reduce the risk and the impact of the disease on the rural population," Kitron says.

Few government resources make it to the rural poor, and the main control for Chagas disease is spraying insecticide. "It's a limited strategy," Kitron says. "If you want to control Chagas disease, you have to look at the whole picture."

The researchers have shown, for example, that people with fewer than two dogs in a household are unlikely to become infected. It turns out that dogs are 14 times more effective at spreading Chagas disease than humans.

"Many of the dogs are not in good shape, they're exposed to a whole bunch of parasites and worms and they just get scraps to eat," Kitron says. "But the idea of just eliminating the dogs is not an option. People really care about their dogs."

An alternative may be to identify dogs that are most at risk of remaining infectious for a long period of time. These "super spreaders" could be targeted with insecticide collars. Research is also ongoing for a vaccine against T. cruzi in mongrel dogs.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Emory University. "Dogs may help collar Chagas disease: Researchers propose new ways to combat prevalent public health challenge." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 July 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712103335.htm>.
Emory University. (2010, July 12). Dogs may help collar Chagas disease: Researchers propose new ways to combat prevalent public health challenge. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712103335.htm
Emory University. "Dogs may help collar Chagas disease: Researchers propose new ways to combat prevalent public health challenge." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/07/100712103335.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) — Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Black Bear Cub Goes Sunday Shopping

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) — Price check on honey? Bear cub startles Oregon drugstore shoppers. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

Dances With Wolves in China's Wild West

AFP (Oct. 23, 2014) — One man is on a mission to boost the population of wolves in China's violence-wracked far west. The animal - symbol of the Uighur minority there - is under threat with a massive human resettlement program in the region. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins