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Published On: Sun, Sep 22nd, 2013

Chagas disease reported in dogs in South Texas

Chagas disease, the parasitic infection caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, is found mainly in Latin America, where it is mostly transmitted to humans by the feces of triatomine bugs, known as “kissing bugs”.

Chagas life cycle Image/CDC

T. cruzi life cycle
Image/CDC

However, it appears the parasite is working its way north into Southern Texas as The San Antonio Humane Society has seen three presumed cases of Chagas Disease in the past nine months in dogs, according to a press release Sept. 20.

Humane Society officials say that while people and dogs become infected with the parasite via the bite of a “kissing bug” and the subsequent defecation in the bite wound, in dogs, eating the bugs is quite common.

They advise dog owners to be alert for the symptoms of Chagas as the disease can be fatal to the animals. Symptoms to watch for include the dog is not eating, lethargy, a swollen abdomen, weakness, confusion and a lack of coordination.

“A sudden decrease in your pets activity level. If they suddenly get a large belly, it’s a symptom of heart failure,” says Dr. Courtney Bridgeman at the Human Society.

The Humane Society offers the following recommendations to prevent Chagas in your pet:

  • “Kissing Bugs” are nocturnal, so allow your pets to sleep indoors at night,
  • If your pet is sleeping outside, make sure the dog house is elevated (off the ground),
  • Eliminate excess brush and shrubbery, and
  • If you see a “Kissing Bug” contact your local pesticide expert to spray

According to the World Health Organization, about 7 million to 8 million people are estimated to be infected worldwide, mostly in Latin America where Chagas disease is endemic.

However, in the past decades it has been increasingly detected in the United States of America, Canada, many European and some Western Pacific countries. This is due mainly to population mobility between Latin America and the rest of the world.

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

Chagas in Black and White: T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise featuring the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Chagas disease in dogs: San Antonio Humane Society reports seven cases so far in 2013 - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] a follow-up to the Chagas disease cases in dogs in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to the Director of Communications with the […]

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