Volume 50, Issue 5
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



The role of as a reservoir of zoonotic hemoflagellates was examined in two ecologically distinct settings in Colombia. While 72% (12 of 18) of the opossums collected in the tropical rain forest harbored , other mammals in the area had lower infection rates: 1.3% ( [spiny rat]; 13% [climbing rat]; and 6% ). isolates from were similar to zymodeme 1 (Z1), and two of four phenotypes were shared with , which is also predominantly arboreal. Terrestrial () and peridomestic () animals were infected with Z3 or other Z1 phenotypes, respectively. Schizodeme analysis showed polymorphisms among isolates from mammals, reflecting diverse modes of transmission, and a complex epidemiologic situation. Despite the lower infection rate of the opossum (14%) found in our study in the tropical dry forest as compared with the tropical wet forest, Chagas' disease has been reported only in the former area. This suggests that the lack of alternative blood sources for triatomines of the tropical dry forest, where mammals are less abundant than in the wet forest, may increase the risk of human infection. Among several species of mammals captured in the tropical dry forest, was isolated from 22.7% (5 of 22) . This finding confirms the important role of opposums in Colombian foci of visceral leishmaniasis, including those where the phlebotomine species involved in transmission is , an alternative vector to the more common .


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