Triatomines as Experimental Vectors of Trypanosomes of Asian Monkeys

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  • Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University, Division of Entomology, Institute for Medical Research, New Haven, Connecticut 06510, Malaysia

Systematic surveys of the wild macaques of South Asia by blood culture resulted in the discovery that trypanosomiasis is enzootic in the simians of Indonesia, Malaysia, India, and Thailand. The isolates obtained differ in morphology, metabolism, and ability to multiply in arthropods. Following this discovery, interest focused on possible transmissions of these trypanosomiases. Laboratory-reared and wild-caught insects were studied to determine which are satisfactory intermediate hosts and potential natural vectors. Successful results were obtained with insectary-reared reduviids and Indonesian isolates. In Rhodnius prolixus and Triatoma rubrofasciata the Indonesian trypanosomes multiply for periods which can exceed 40 days. The flagellate infections are in the digestive tract, whereas trypanosomes have never been seen in the salivary glands or in the hemolymph. The feces of trypanosome-carrying reduviids are infective, suggesting a stercoreal method of infection of mammals, and infection was produced in experiments in which feeding by the insects was not possible. The relevance of these findings to natural transmission in Indonesia is not known. Experiments with insects and all other trypanosomal isolates have been negative. The natural transmission mechanism(s) of the simian trypanosomiases in South Asia remains an unsolved problem.

Author Notes

Present address: Department of International Health, San Francisco Medical Center, San Francisco, California 94143.