Chagas disease, which manifests as cardiomyopathy and severe gastrointestinal dysfunction, is caused by Trypanosomacruzi, a vector-borne parasite. In California, the vector Triatomaprotracta frequently colonizes woodrat (Neotoma spp.) lodges, but may also invade nearby residences, feeding upon humans and creating the dual risk of bite-induced anaphylaxis and T. cruzi transmission. Our research aimed to assess T. cruzi presence in woodrats in a previously unstudied northern California area, statistically evaluate woodrat microhabitat use with respect to vegetation parameters, and provide guidance for habitat modifications to mitigate public health risks associated with Tr. protracta exposure. Blood samples from big-eared woodrats (N. macrotis) trapped on rural private properties yielded a T. cruzi prevalence of 14.3%. Microhabitat analyses suggest that modifying vegetation to reduce understory density within a 40 meter radius of human residences might minimize woodrat lodge construction within this buffer area, potentially decreasing human exposure to Tr. protracta.
- Chagas disease
- Trypanosoma cruzi
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis