Field Trial of Vaccination against American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas' Disease) in Domestic Guinea Pigs

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  • Laboratorio de Patología Experimental, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad Nacional de Salta, Calle Buenos Aires 177, 4400 Salta, Argentina

Domestically bred South American guinea pigs received 3 to 5 immunizing intradermal inocula of 28 × 106 live attenuated Trypanosoma cruzi epimastigotes (TCC strain) per kg. These inocula were unable to produce patent infections or to propagate through vectors. Groups of experimental and control guinea pigs were exposed to natural T. cruzi infection in a field yard for periods of up to 551 days. Xenodiagnoses were applied periodically to all animals. This showed that the incidence of natural T. cruzi infection was significantly lowered at various periods post-exposure. The final proportion of infected animals was 39% (20/51) among vaccinees vs. 63% (32/51) among controls (P < 0.02). The protective effect was exerted particularly upon males and lasted for over a year in one experimental series (infection in 1/7 vaccinees vs. 6/7 controls, P = 0.014). Vaccination reduced vector transmission rates from 38% to 18% (P < 0.001). These results agree with previous laboratory experiments in showing a partial resistance which does not eliminate residual T. cruzi infection. However, the field work indicates that even this kind of resistance may have epidemiological impact, reducing both the number of reservoirs spreading the disease and the rate of vector transmission.