A study of experimental reinfection by Trypanosoma cruzi in dogs.

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  • 1 Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou, Fiocruz, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The role of reinfection in the evolution of Chagas' disease was evaluated in dogs alternately infected with the 147 and SC-1 strains of Trypanosoma cruzi. A parasitologic, serologic, clinical, and electrocardiographic follow-up was carried out on the infected and noninfected dogs. The dogs were reinfected five times over a period of 38 months. No deaths were observed during the experiment. They presented a brief oligosymptomatic acute phase. The level of parasitemia decreased progressively with the number of reinfections. Bloodstream parasites were not detectable after the fifth reinfection. All parasite samples isolated during the follow-up were zymodeme B, corresponding to strain 147, irrespective of the strain with which the dogs were first infected and of the triatomine species used for isolation. Conversely, amplification by the polymerase chain reaction of a segment of the T. cruzi mini-exon gene showed the simultaneous presence of both strains in three of the eight reinfected animals. Antibody titers were greater among the dogs successively infected than those infected only once. Neither amastigotes nor T. cruzi DNA were detected in the tissues of the infected dogs. Alterations related to Chagas' disease were identified only in the heart and consisted of chronic focal and discrete myocarditis, compatible with the indeterminate form of Chagas' disease. All infected dogs developed this form of the disease, which was independent of the number of infections.