The potential for emergence of Chagas disease in the United States

Rebecca Click Lambert, Korine N. Kolivras, Lynn M. Resler, Carlyle C. Brewster, Sally L. Paulson
  • Rebecca Click Lambert
    Department of Geography, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA, United States
  • Korine N. Kolivras
    Department of Geography, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA, United States | korine@vt.edu
  • Lynn M. Resler
    Department of Geography, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA, United States
  • Carlyle C. Brewster
    Department of Entomology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA, United States
  • Sally L. Paulson
    Department of Entomology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, VA, United States

Abstract

To determine the risk for Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) in the United States, the characteristics that make the triatomine vector effective and the areas most at risk for transmission were delineated. In addition, the status of Chagas disease awareness among physicians in areas with a potential risk for the disease was determined. A geographical information system (GIS) was used to analyze three triatomine species within the United States known to harbor Trypanosoma cruzi and that exhibit qualities of domesticity. An analysis of the minimum temperature threshold for increased triatomine activity delineates the current population at increased risk, and by incorporating temperature predictions for 2030, the population at risk under a future climate scenario was also delineated. Considering both environmental and social factors, a vignette-based physician survey, based on the results of the GIS analysis, was used to gauge the level of awareness of Chagas disease within the delineated higher risk range. The current area at increased risk for Chagas disease includes much of the southern United States, and the higher risk range is expected to expand into the central United States based upon the 1°C (1.8°F) increase in temperature predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by the year 2030. Survey results indicate a limited consideration of Chagas disease during differential diagnosis, illustrating that the low number of Chagas disease cases discovered in the United States may be attributable to a lack of disease awareness as opposed to a lack of disease threat. This study combines GIS and survey analyses to evaluate the role that temperature variability and disease awareness among physicians play in the potential emergence of Chagas disease in the United States. This approach indicates that there is a potential for Chagas disease to emerge in the United States.

Keywords

Chagas disease, risk maps, geographical information systems, physician survey, vector-borne disease.

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Submitted: 2014-12-23 11:02:19
Published: 2008-05-01 00:00:00
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Copyright (c) 2008 Rebecca Click Lambert, Korine N. Kolivras, Lynn M. Resler, Carlyle C. Brewster, Sally L. Paulson

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