Canine Chagas Disease: Characterizing Cardiac Disease and Developing Screening Recommendations for Asymptomatic Dogs Seropositive for Trypanosoma cruzi
Chagas disease (Trypanosomiasis) is caused by a parasite that infects the heart of humans and dogs in the United States causing heart disease and acute death. It is transmitted by kissing bugs, and there is no vaccination or approved treatment. Dogs in southern states have a higher risk of parasite infection, and while all dog breeds can be affected, in particular non-sporting, toy and herding breed groups breed groups are over represented. Currently, there is only one commercially available test for Chagas disease in dogs while multiple positive tests are required to confirm infection in humans. Not all dogs with a positive test will develop clinical signs of disease, yet characterization of the heart disease and recommendations for screening dogs with a positive test do not exist in naturally infected dogs. Veterinarians and owners are forced to make decisions about the health of their dog based on the currently available test results. The objective of this study is to evaluate asymptomatic dogs with a positive Chagas test to characterize the presence of heart disease using electrocardiography (5 minute ECG and 24 hour Holter monitor), ultrasound of the heart, and cardiac troponin I, a non-invasive biomarker of heart injury. Additionally, we will evaluate other Chagas tests as potential additional tests to confirm Chagas disease. Results will provide useful information to help owners and veterinarians screening dogs for evidence of heart problems associated with Chagas disease and will expand knowledge of the natural history of this disease in dogs.
Dogs of any age that are clinically healthy without any other medical conditions and have a positive Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) antigen test result within the past 6 months. Dogs cannot have received any prior medical treatment for Chagas disease. Dogs must be able to make several trips to the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station.
Owner Responsibilities (Samples to be collected):
- Owners must be able to make a trip to Texas A& M to participate in the study at the time of screening for enrollment and again at 12 months and 24 months after enrollment.
- Owners must be able to answer questions regarding their dog’s health in a brief phone call or email at 6 months and 18 months after enrollment.
- Enrolled patients will have tests performed as part of the study including blood work (complete blood count, biochemistry panel, heartworm test), ECG/Holter, and an echocardiogram (cardiac ultrasound) at no cost to the owner.
Read more about AKC CHF grant #02632 here!
Access the study flyer here.More Information
Name: Ashley Saunders, DVM
Help Future Generations of Dogs
Participate in canine health research by providing samples or by enrolling in a clinical trial. Samples are needed from healthy dogs and dogs affected by specific diseases.