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Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of Trypanosoma cruzi infection in dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) from a Chagas Disease-Endemic Urban Area in Colombia.

In the last few years, an unusual increase in the number of acute Chagas disease outbreaks, presumably due to oral transmission, has been reported in urban areas in Santander, Colombia. Given the importance of dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) as reservoir hosts and sentinels of T. cruzi infection across different regions of America, we carried out a serological and molecular survey on T. cruzi infection in 215 dogs from the metropolitan area of Bucaramanga, Santander. Serological detection was carried out using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), indirect immunofluorescence antibody test (IFAT), and indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA), while molecular detection was done using a nested PCR (nPCR), targeting the microsatellite region of T. cruzi nuclear DNA. Animals were defined as seropositive when at least two of the three serological tests were positive, and only these animals were evaluated with the nPCR. To discriminate DTU TcI from other DTUs, a multiplex PCR was performed in the T. cruzi-positive samples. Additionally, clinical and hematological traits were evaluated in these hosts. The dog sera showed a seropositivity rate of 27.9 % (60/215), of which 43.3 % (26/60) were positive for nPCR. Statistical analysis indicated that T. cruzi seropositive in dogs was associated with specific socioeconomic sectors and a lack of garbage collection in these municipalities. Hematological analyses showed that T. cruzi infection was associated with anemia and platelet alterations but not with alterations of aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT) and creatine kinase myocardial band (CK-MB). The high seroprevalence of infection and active circulation of T. cruzi I (TcI) in dogs reflect the risk of infection to humans in this area, which should be taken into consideration when Chagas disease control programs are implemented. In addition, T. cruzi infection may take a toll on dog health, which should be considered during dog care and management.

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