02448: Canine Chagas Disease: Characterizing Cardiac Abnormalities, Vector Infection and Control Strategies, and Parasite Strains in Kennel Environments

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $160,407
Sarah A Hamer, DVM, PhD; Texas A&M AgriLife Research
January 1, 2018 - June 30, 2020

Sponsor(s): Basset Hound Club of America, Inc.

Breed(s): -All Dogs
Research Program Area: Immunology and Infectious Disease
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One Health: Yes


Chagas disease is a parasitic infection that can cause acute death and chronic heart disease in any breed of dog, and there is no vaccination or approved treatment. There is currently an unprecedented recognition for canine Chagas disease in the southern US, where infected kissing bug vectors occur. The disease is well-studied in Latin America, but the current lack of knowledge about canine infection in the US hinders our ability to protect canine health. Infected dogs occur across the range of kissing bugs in the southern half of the US, and Texas is a particular hotspot for infection due to the diversity of kissing bugs and high parasite infection prevalence. The investigators will establish a network of AKC breeding kennels in 4 key areas representing range limits of different vector species to: (1) characterize heart abnormalities of infected dogs using ECG and cardiac troponin I, a non-invasive biomarker of cardiac injury; (2) collect kissing bugs from kennel environments using complementary methods including a trained bug scent detection dog to determine vector infection prevalence and blood meal sources; and (3) characterize parasite strains in dogs and vectors because different genetic variants of the parasite are associated with different disease outcomes. Importantly, because this zoonotic disease is an emerging public health threat to canine owners and the veterinary community, the discoveries made will help to simultaneously advance both canine and human health initiatives.


Busselman RE, Curtis-Robles R, Meyers AC, et al. Abundant triatomines in Texas dog kennel environments: Triatomine collections, infection with Trypanosoma cruzi, and blood feeding hosts. Acta Tropica. 2024;250:107087. doi:10.1016/j.actatropica.2023.107087

Fiatsonu E, Busselman RE, Hamer GL, Hamer SA, Ndeffo-Mbah ML (2023) Effectiveness of fluralaner treatment regimens for the control of canine Chagas disease: A mathematical modeling study. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 17(1): e0011084. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0011084

Rodriguez, Carlos A., Rachel E. Busselman, Huifeng Shen, Ashley B. Saunders, Rick Tarleton, and Sarah A. Hamer. “Validation of a Multiplex Microsphere Immunoassay for Detection of Trypanosoma Cruzi Antibodies in Dogs.” Preprint. Microbiology, March 6, 2023. https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.03.05.531211.

Christopher DM, Curtis-Robles R, Hamer GL, Bejcek J, Saunders AB, et al. (2023) Collection of triatomines from sylvatic habitats by a Trypanosoma cruzi-infected scent detection dog in Texas, USA. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 17(3): e0010813. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0010813

Busselman, R. E., Meyers, A. C., Zecca, I. B., Auckland, L. D., Castro, A. H., Dowd, R. E., Curtis-Robles, R., Hodo, C. L., Saunders, A. B., & Hamer, S. A. (2021). High incidence of Trypanosoma cruzi infections in dogs directly detected through longitudinal tracking at 10 multi-dog kennels, Texas, USA. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 15(11), e0009935. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0009935

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