Chagas disease (AmericanTrypanosomiasis), caused by Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by triatominebugs, is the most important vector-borne disease in Latin America. Despite anongoing eradication campaign, transmission persists in much of the continent,particularly in the Gran Chaco of northern Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia,where Triatoma infestans is the main vector. Abundant peridomestic structures(particularly animal corrals) provide a refuge and source for repeateddomestic reinfestation, dogs are a continuous source of infection forcolonizing triatomine bugs, and sylvatic vectors invading human habitationsmay also play a role in reintroducing T. cruzi. The long-term goal of thisproject is to interrupt the reinfestation process and introduction ofinfection into homes. High degree of spatial, temporal and host heterogeneitywith regard to vector and parasite survival, reproduction and spread, andongoing anthropogenic changes have to be considered to understand infestationand infection patterns. Data derived from molecular tools, satellite imageryand field observations and experiments will be integrated into a GIS andmathematical models to elucidate the underlying biological mechanisms andepidemiological processes.
The Specific Aims of the project are: 1) To analyzethe spatial and temporal pattern of reinfestation by triatomine bugs anddistribution of T. cruzi infection in bugs, dogs and people in three ruralcommunities with the aid of satellite imagery, GIS, spatial statistics andother analytical tools; 2) To identify mechanisms underlying these patternsusing field observations, field manipulations and experimental studies, andrelate changes in these patterns to management strategies, habitat degradationand other anthropogenic changes; 3) To determine the source of colonizingvectors and T. cruzi infection by comparing the genetic makeup of bug andparasite strains using molecular techniques and morphometry; 4) To develop anempirically based, spatially structured mathematical model of thereinfestation and transmission process at the community-wide level; 5) On acoarser scale, to apply the results and develop risk maps of the distributionof household infestation by T. infestans and T. cruzi infection at thevillage, Department and Province-wide level; to compare effects of standardvs. scientifically designed intervention programs on infestation level andrate of reinfestation in new communities; and 6) To train scientists and NVCPpersonnel in the use of ecological and epidemiological tools, modeling, GISand remote sensing techniques for research design and focused controlstrategies.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
Research Project (R01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAI1-ALR-F (J1))
Program Officer
Jessup, Christine
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Emory University
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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Gürtler, Ricardo E; Cecere, María C; Fernández, María Del Pilar et al. (2014) Key source habitats and potential dispersal of triatoma infestans populations in Northwestern Argentina: implications for vector control. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 8:e3238
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