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Working dogs

Posted August 21, 2017

Alyssa and coauthors' new findings of Chagas disease parasite in the government working dogs along the Texas-Mexcio border are published in PLoS Negl Trop Dis, and were reviewed in News-at-a-Glance in Science:

Chagas disease in border dogs

Chagas disease, which causes fever, swelling, and headaches and can lead to heart failure, is an emerging threat for humans in the southern United States. But it's also taking a toll on dogs, scientists reported last week in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The researchers took blood samples from 528 dogs, mostly Belgian Malinois and German shepherds, that are assisting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in detecting narcotics or tracking humans along the Texas-Mexico border. Some 39 of the dogs had antibodies against Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease and is transmitted by bloodsucking insects known as “kissing bugs.” That number increased to 100 when inconclusive tests were judged positive. Although some infected dogs do not exhibit any symptoms, others develop debilitating cardiac disease that may lead to death. No vaccines or treatments to treat dogs infected with T. cruzi are approved in the United States.



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