Surveillance of seroepidemiology and morbidity of Chagas disease in the Negro River, Brazilian Amazon
BACKGROUND Chagas disease in the Brazilian Amazon Region was previously regarded as an enzootic disease of wild animals. More recently, in situations where humans have penetrated the wild ecotope or where triatomines and/or wild animals (marsupials) have invaded human homes resulting in disease transmission, Chagas disease has come to be regarded as an anthropozoonosis. We found that the highest incidence of infection due to Trypanosoma cruzi and Chagas disease occurred among piassaba fibre gatherers and their families. OBJECTIVES Considering the results of previous surveys, we conducted a new survey of piassaba gatherers and their families in the creeks of the Aracá, Curuduri, Demini, Ererê and Padauiri rivers, which are tributaries on the left bank of the Negro River, in the municipality of Barcelos; Barcelos-Caurés highway; Negro River in Santa Isabel of the Negro River; and Marié River, on the right bank of the Negro River. METHODS A questionnaire was applied to 482 piassaba gatherers and their families who accompanied them. We collected 5-mL blood samples (with permission from each subject), separated the serum, and performed serological tests using indirect immunofluorescence and conventional and recombinant enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). We performed brief clinical examination and electrocardiograms. Only 273 subjects attended our field base for detailed clinical examination and electrocardiogram. FINDINGS AND MAIN CONCLUSIONS The questionnaire revealed that 100% of the 482 patients recognised the triatomine Rhodnius brethesi, which they had seen in the piassaba plantation and 81% in their field huts. A total of 79% of subjects had previously been bitten by this vector and 21% did not know. The 25 subjects seropositive for T. cruzi infection (5.2%) stated that they had been bitten more than 10 times by this insect. Of the 273 subjects who underwent electrocardiogram, 22% showed conditions that were possibly attributable to Chagas disease or other cardiovascular disease.