Volume 65, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


The probability of Trypanosoma cruzi transmission to opossums by independent events of predation and fecal contamination during feeding ("biting") with positive Triatoma infestans was estimated. Negative female opossums were challenged for 23 hr with 10 infected third and fourth instars of T. infestans, and tests for positivity for T. cruzi by xenodiagnosis were performed at 30, 60, and 90 days. From these data, seven probability parameters were estimated by maximum likelihood, and likelihood ratio statistics confidence intervals were calculated. Simultaneous estimation of p1 (probability that a "bite" will infect an opossum), p3 (probability that a bug that has been eaten by an opossum will infect it), and p6 (probability that the opossum will become infected if faced with an infected triatomine), resulted in p1 = 0.06, p3 = 0.075, and p6 = 0.059. On average, each opossum should be exposed to an average of 700 encounters with bugs during its life, resulting in about eight potentially infective contacts, to produce the 35% opossum prevalence found in the field.


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