Blood-Meal Sources and Trypanosoma cruzi Infection in Coastal and Insular Triatomine Bugs from the Atacama Desert of Chile

Mepraia parapatrica is one of the lesser known and less abundant sylvatic triatomine species naturally infected by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas disease. M. parapatrica lives in sympatry with T. cruzi-infected rodents, but only birds, reptiles, and marine mammals have been reported as blood-meal sources of this vector species by serology. The distribution range of this kissing bug overlaps with fishers’ settlements and tourist areas, and therefore the study of the blood-meal sources of this triatomine species is relevant. Here, we determined the blood-meal sources of M. parapatrica by NGS or standard sequencing from a coastal mainland area and an island in northern Chile, and T. cruzi infection by real-time PCR. The blood-meals of. M parapatrica included 61.3% reptiles, 35.5% mammals (including humans) and 3.2% birds. Feeding on reptiles was more frequent on the mainland, while on the island feeding on mammals was more frequent. The presence of T. cruzi-infected triatomine bugs and humans as part of the diet of M. parapatrica in both areas represents an epidemiological threat and potential risk to the human population visiting or established in these areas. Currently there are no tools to control wild triatomines; these results highlight the potential risk of inhabiting these areas and the necessity of developing information campaigns for the community and surveillance actions.
Mepraia parapatrica, Wild Trypanosoma cruzi cycle, Wild triatomine vector, Microlophus, Abrothrix, Vector-borne disease