Dispersion and invasion capacity of sylvatic populations of Triatoma dimidiata (Latreille) were investigated during 14 mo by means of experimental chicken coops installed in a nature reserve within the Maya Biosphere, Petén, Guatemala. In addition, palm trees, underground archeological holes (chultunes) and piles of limestones within the forest were inspected as potential sylvatic habitats of T. dimidiata. From the three types of sylvatic habitats we inspected, all served as shelter and breeding sites for T. dimidiata. The natural infection of these bugs (n = 72) with Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas) was high (25%) and represent a risk for humans who colonize the forest. T. dimidiata quickly invaded the experimental chicken coops installed in the primary forest, albeit at very low densities. However, only one adult bug was encountered in the chicken coops installed in a secondary forest. Dispersal of adult T. dimidiata was most apparent at the end of the dry season. Overall, our results indicate a potential risk for invasion by sylvatic T. dimidiata of domestic environments in this area, with a risk of T. cruzi transmission to humans. We suggest that a system of community-based surveillance should be developed to detect new infestations and organize prompt treatment of any new cases of acute Chagas disease that may result.
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Vol. 40 • No. 6