Trypanosoma cruzi DNA in Desmodus rotundus (common vampire bat) and Histiotus montanus (small big-eared brown bat) from Chile

The protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, is transmitted by infected feces or consumption of blood-sucking triatomine insects to several mammalian orders including Chiroptera. In Chile, the distribution of several insectivorous and one hematophagous bat species overlaps with those of triatomine vectors, but the T. cruzi infection status of local chiropterans is unknown. In 2018, we live-captured bats from two protected areas in Chile to collect plagiopatagium tissue, feces and perianal swab samples, in search for T. cruzi-DNA by real time PCR assays using species-specific primers. In Pan de Azúcar island (~26◦S), we examined a roost of Desmodus rotundus (common vampire bat) and sampled tissue from 17 individuals, detecting T. cruzi-DNA in five of them. In Las Chinchillas National Reserve (~31◦S), we examined two roosts of Histiotus montanus (small big-eared brown bat), collecting feces or perianal swab samples from eight individuals, detecting T. cruzi-DNA in four of them. This is the first report of T. cruzi-DNA evidence in bat species from Chile. Both vector-borne and oral transmission are potential infection routes that can explain our results. Further investi gation is needed for a better understanding of the role of bats in the T. cruzi transmission cycle.
Chiroptera, Chiroptera, Desmodus rotundus, Histiotus montanus, Oral transmission, Triatomine, Vector-borne transmission