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Evidence of Autochthonous Chagas Disease in Southeastern Texas

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  • Baylor College of Medicine, National School of Tropical Medicine, Section of Tropical Medicine, Houston, Texas; Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, Houston, Texas; Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, Houston, Texas; United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria, Atlanta, Georgia

Autochthonous transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi in the United States is rarely reported. Here, we describe five newly identified patients with autochthonously acquired infections from a small pilot study of positive blood donors in southeast Texas. Case-patients 1–4 were possibly infected near their residences, which were all in the same region ∼100 miles west of Houston. Case-patient 5 was a young male with considerable exposure from routine outdoor and camping activities associated with a youth civic organization. Only one of the five autochthonous case-patients received anti-parasitic treatment. Our findings suggest an unrecognized risk of human vector-borne transmission in southeast Texas. Education of physicians and public health officials is crucial for identifying the true disease burden and source of infection in Texas.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Melissa N. Garcia, Baylor College of Medicine, National School of Tropical Medicine, Section of Tropical Medicine, 1102 Bates Avenue, Houston, TX 77008. E-mail: mnolan@bcm.edu

Financial support: This study was generously funded by an intramural pilot grant from Baylor College of Medicine's Cardiovascular Research Institute.

Authors' addresses: Melissa N. Garcia, Rodion Gorchakov, Peter J. Hotez, and Kristy O. Murray, Baylor College of Medicine, National School of Tropical Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Tropical Medicine, Houston, TX, E-mails: mnolan@bcm.edu, rodion@bcm.edu, hotez@bcm.edu, and kmurray@bcm.edu. David Aguilar, Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Medicine, Section of Cardiology, Houston, TX, E-mail: daguilar@bcm.edu. Susan N. Rossmann, Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, Houston, TX, E-mail: srossmann@giveblood.org. Susan P. Montgomery and Hilda Rivera, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria Parasitic Disease, Atlanta, GA, E-mails: zqu6@cdc.gov and igi2@cdc.gov. Laila Woc-Colburn, Baylor College of Medicine, National School of Tropical Medicine, Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Houston, TX, E-mail: lailawoc@gmail.com.

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