Printer Friendly

Chagas disease.

In this study, investigators reconstructed the behavior of Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) in the Atacama Desert over the past 9,000 years. The researchers analyzed ancient DNA to identify kinetoplast DNA of Trypanosoma cruzi, the disease's infectious agent transmitted by the insect vector, a triatomid bug. Specimens analyzed were from muscle and visceral tissues in excavated, naturally mummified human bodies buried in that hyperarid desert during the past 9 millennia.

Results indicated that 41% of these bodies were infected by T. cruzi at the time of death. Among the 11 represented populations, no statistically significant differences in prevalence rates could be demonstrated when studied by the time period, sex, or age, except for lower rates (28%) for infants. Such prevalence rates are similar to those of modern T. cruzi-endemic areas. These results demonstrated the well-established presence of Chagas disease in this region among wild forest animals when the first humans (the Chinchorro) arrived. By settling this region, the new arrivals initially and inadvertently exposed themselves to the triatomid bug transmitting this disease, and joined the wild animals as part of the disease's reservoir. At some undetermined time during this 9,000-year interval, a few of the vector species became adapted to the thatched roof and other features of the region's human dwellings and initiated the independent domestic cycle involving only humans and their domesticated animals. The study also suggests that, given available specimens, the history of other infectious diseases can be similarly reconstructed.

Aufderheide AC, Salo W, Madden M, Streitz J, Buikstra J, Guhl F, et al. A 9,000-year record of Chagas' disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004;101:2034-9. Epub 2004 Feb 06.
COPYRIGHT 2004 U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Infectious Disease Archaeology
Author:McDade, Joseph E.
Publication:Emerging Infectious Diseases
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Words:278
Previous Article:Influenza virus tropisms.
Next Article:Polysaccharide intercellular adhesin.
Topics:


Related Articles
Strike the parasite and spare the host.
Paleopathological puzzles: researchers unearth ancient medical secrets.
Emerging Chagas Disease: Trophic Network and Cycle of Transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi from Palm Trees in the Amazon.
Will new approach cure Chagas disease? (Biomedicine).
Ecologic niche modeling and potential reservoirs for Chagas disease, Mexico. (Research).
Heart damage tied to immune reaction. (Immunology).
Congenital transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi infection in Argentina. (Research).
Chagas disease in a domestic transmission cycle in Southern Texas, USA. (Dispatches).
Periurban Trypanosoma cruzi--infected Triatoma infestans, Arequipa, Peru.
A resurgence of deadly diseases: diseases once thought to be nearly eradicated in America, such as tuberculosis and leprosy, are now rising as...

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters