Kissing bugs and Chagas disease in Texas
Financial contributions will be used to investigate the factors that drive Chagas disease transmission throughout Texas, with the goal of protecting human and animal health. It is only when we have a better understanding of the ecology and epidemiology of Chagas disease that we can help design interventions to best to prevent Chagas disease in humans, dogs, cats, and other animals.
Chagas disease is a deadly cardiac disease in humans and dogs caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi that can be transmitted by the infected feces of the blood-sucking kissing bug. Infected kissing bugs are found throughout central and South America and the southern United States. Our team has found kissing bugs across the state of Texas, and over 60% are infected with the parasite. Dogs are affected in regions where infected kissing bugs thrive, and an increasing number of Texas dogs are being diagnosed as positive for infection with practically no options for treating the disease.
Our research team combines experts in veterinary medicine, parasitology, entomology, ecology, and public health. We are taking a ‘One Health’ approach to study the ecology and epidemiology of Chagas disease in the southern US. We expect that our data will provide critical information useful in efforts to predict and reduce Chagas disease in human and animal populations.
Specific Research Activities
- State-wide ‘citizen science’ effort to collect and analyze kissing bugs found by the public while educating the public, veterinarians, and physicians about Chagas disease and kissing bugs.
- Field research and working with hunters across private ranches and wilderness areas to trap kissing bugs and wildlife reservoirs including rodents, bats, feral hogs, and raccoon
- Assessing different dog populations (dogs at shelters, working dogs, show dogs, household pets) to determine risk factors for Chagas disease
- Developing a laboratory mouse model of infection with multiple types of parasites, to better replicate the natural infection
- Determining the genetic diversity of the parasite in nature in relation to disease outcome
Please add “Sarah Hamer-Chagas Disease Project” as the gift fund name.