Feral swine (Sus scrofa) are an invasive species and reservoir of numerous zoonotic pathogens in the US, and Texas leads the nation in the estimated population size of feral hogs. Texas also harbors enzootic transmission cycles of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, agent of Chagas disease. Given previous evidence that swine can serve as reservoirs of T. cruzi in Latin America and new evidence of triatomines (kissing bugs) feeding on swine in Texas, we measured the prevalence of T. cruzi infection in feral swine in Texas. From 2013 to 2014, we sampled blood and/or cardiac tissue from 78 feral swine across 14 Texas counties (seven with and seven without prior documentation of kissing bug occurrence) and used PCR and histopathology to detect T. cruzi infection. We determined an overall infection prevalence of 6% (3 of 54) based on PCR evaluation of cardiac tissue, and no blood samples were positive (n=72). All three positive pigs were from counties where kissing bugs are documented. No T. cruzi amastigotes were noted on histopathology (n=54). Sarcocysts were observed in 10 (18%) of the samples, five of which also had mild focal areas of degeneration and inflammatory cell infiltration. Eco-epidemiologic investigations can provide an assessment of contributions of feral hogs to maintenance of T. cruzi across a landscape to help protect human and animal health.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3