The Isolation and Identification of Trypanosoma Cruzi from Raccoons in Maryland

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  • Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Animal Disease and Parasite Research Division, Agricultural Research Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Patuxent Research Refuge, Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, U. S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D. C.


Five raccoons trapped at Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland, were found to have trypanosomes in the blood which were morphologically indistinguishable from Trypanosoma cruzi on stained smears. The organism grew well in culture. It developed and reproduced in Triatoma protracta, T. infestans, T. phyllosoma, and Rhodnius prolixus. Experimental infections were produced in raccoons, opossums, mice, rats, and monkeys by inoculation of blood, culture, and triatome forms. Typical leishmaniform bodies were found in tissue sections of cardiac muscle fibers from naturally and experimentally infected animals. Cross agglutinations carried out with living cultural forms and rabbit antisera demonstrated a close antigenic relationship between the raccoon trypanosome and T. cruzi (Brazil strain). On the basis of (1) morphology, (2) presence of leishmaniform tissue stages, (3) development in triatomes, (4) infectivity to a variety of mammals, (5) culture characteristics, and (6) cross reactions in serological tests, this parasite is considered conspecific with Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas, 1909) the causative agent of American human trypanosomiasis.

Author Notes

Present address: 406th Medical General Laboratory, APO 343, San Francisco, California.

Present address: Parasitology Department, Research Division, Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Illinois.