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Abstract

Objective—To determine the prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi infection among dogs in Oklahoma.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—301 owned or impounded dogs related by ownership or general geographic location to 3 dogs determined to have trypanosomiasis.

Procedure—Blood samples were obtained from dogs between November 1996 and September 1997. Infection status was determined by use of a radioimmunoprecipitation assay. Second blood samples were obtained from some of the seropositive dogs for study by hemoculture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay. Sites where infected dogs were found were inspected for triatomine insects, and light traps were used for vector trapping.

Results—11(3.6%) dogs were seropositive for T cruzi infection. Ten of the 11 were owned rural hunting dogs. Protozoal organisms isolated from the blood of 1 seropositive dog were identified as T cruzi by PCR testing. Only 1 adult Triatoma sanguisugai was captured in a light trap at a site near infected dogs; this insect was not infected.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Our findings suggest that T cruzi is enzootic in eastern Oklahoma. Measures that would reduce the risk of dogs acquiring T cruzi infection are unlikely to be acceptable to their owners, and no effective drugs are available for treatment. The presence of T cruzi-infected dogs poses a threat of transmission to persons at risk of exposure to contaminated blood. Veterinarians who practice in the southern United States should be cognizant of this blood borne zoonosis and educate all personnel about appropriate precautions. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:1853–1857)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association