The improbable transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi to human: the missing link in the dynamics and control of Chagas disease

Nouvellet, Pierre, Dumonteil, Eric and Gourbière, Sébastien (2013) The improbable transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi to human: the missing link in the dynamics and control of Chagas disease. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 7 (11). e2505. ISSN 1935-2735

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Chagas disease has a major impact on human health in Latin America and is becoming of global concern due to international migrations. Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of the disease, is one of the rare human parasites transmitted by the feces of its vector, as it is unable to reach the salivary gland of the insect. This stercorarian transmission is notoriously poorly understood, despite its crucial role in the ecology and evolution of the pathogen and the disease. The objective of this study was to quantify the probability of T. cruzi vectorial transmission to humans, and to use such an estimate to predict human prevalence from entomological data. We developed several models of T. cruzi transmission to estimate the probability of transmission from vector to host. Using datasets from the literature, we estimated the probability of transmission per contact with an infected triatomine to be 5.8x10(-4) (95%CI: [2.6; 11.0] x 10(-4)). This estimate was consistent across triatomine species, robust to variations in other parameters, and corresponded to 900-4,000 contacts per case. Our models subsequently allowed predicting human prevalence from vector abundance and infection rate in 7/10 independent datasets covering various triatomine species and epidemiological situations. This low probability of T. cruzi transmission reflected well the complex and unlikely mechanism of transmission via insect feces, and allowed predicting human prevalence from basic entomological data. Although a proof of principle study would now be valuable to validate our models' predictive ability in an even broader range of entomological and ecological settings, our quantitative estimate could allow switching the evaluation of disease risk and vector control program from purely entomological indexes to parasitological measures, as commonly done for other major vector borne diseases. This might lead to different quantitative perspectives as these indexes are well known not to be proportional one to another.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Depositing User: Pierre Nouvellet
Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2018 14:50
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2019 14:49

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