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Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical

Print version ISSN 0037-8682On-line version ISSN 1678-9849

Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop. vol.51 no.2 Uberaba Mar./Apr. 2018

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/0037-8682-0408-2017 

Major Article

Insect vectors of Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) in Northeastern Brazil

Arduina Sofia Ortet de Barros Vasconcelos Fidalgo1 

Alanna Carla da Costa1 

José Damião da Silva Filho2 

Darlan da Silva Cândido3 

Erlane Chaves Freitas2 

Laíse dos Santos Pereira2 

Mônica Coelho de Andrade4 

Kátia Cristina Morais Soares Gomes5 

Cláudia Mendonça Bezerra6 

Maria de Fátima Oliveira7 

1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Farmacêuticas, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brasil.

2Programa de Pós-Graduação em Patologia, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brasil.

3Programa de Pós-Graduação em Alergia e Imunopatologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brasil.

4Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ciências Médicas, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brasil.

5Faculdade de Ciências, Departamento de Química e Bioquímica, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal.

6Programa de Controle de Doença de Chagas, Núcleo de Controle Vetorial, Secretaria de Saúde do Governo do Estado do Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brasil.

7Laboratório de Pesquisa em Doença de Chagas, Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, CE, Brasil.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Chagas disease remains a public health problem in the rural and urban areas of 19 countries in the Americas.

METHODS:

The aim of the present study was to investigate the Trypanosoma cruzi infection rate of triatomines collected from both intra- and peridomiciliary areas in eleven municipalities of Southeastern Ceará, Brazil, from 2009 to 2015.

RESULTS:

A total of 32,364 triatomine specimens, including nymphs and adults, were collected, and 31,736 (98.06%) of these were examined. More nymphs were collected than adults, and the greatest number of triatomines (n = 8,548) was collected in 2010, for which the infection rate was 1.3%, with the highest rate of infections observed for specimens from Quixere. The species collected during the study were identified as Triatoma pseudomaculata, Triatoma brasiliensis, Panstrongylus megistus, Panstrongylus lutzi, and Rhodnius nasutus, with T. pseudomaculata being the most abundant (n = 19,962).

CONCLUSIONS:

These results verify the presence of triatomines in both intra- and peridomiciliary areas, thereby ensuring persistence of the pathogen and consequently, the disease, as the presence of infected vectors in households is an important risk factor. According to these findings, the Chagas Disease Control Program should intensify its efforts in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

Keywords: Chagas disease; Triatomine; Infection rate

INTRODUCTION

Since its discovery by Carlos Chagas in 1909, Chagas disease, which is caused by the flagellated protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by hematophagous insect or triatomines, has been a public health problem in rural and urban areas of the 19 American countries colonized by Iberian empires, owing to the migration of its vectors1. It is estimated that 8 to 14 million people are infected worldwide2, especially in Latin America, and more than 100 million are at risk of contracting the disease. Previously, the disease was only found in the American continent. However, due to the intense migratory flows of Latin American populations, Chagas disease is now considered a global problem3.

Chagas disease is typically transmitted by vectors (80% of cases) when triatomines, while feeding on a host’s blood, deposit feces that contain the metacyclic trypomastigote form of T. cruzi, which then penetrates the host’s skin or mucous membranes. The second transmission route of epidemiological importance is through blood transfusion (5-20% of cases), which, along with international migration, has introduced Chagas disease to non-endemic countries, including Canada, the United States, European countries, and some Eastern Pacific countries4. With advances in vector control and transfusion monitoring, alternative routes, such as oral and transplacental transmission, laboratory accidents, animal handling, and organ transplants, have increased in relevance5. In recent years, the oral route transmission has increased in northern Brazil, owing to the ingestion of T. cruzi-infected foods, such as açai berry and sugarcane6. For example, 41 cases of Chagas disease were confirmed in the City of Belém, State of Pará, in 2011 (January to October, with 24 cases in October alone)7.

In Brazil, vector transmission occurs in all states of the northeast region and primarily depends on the presence of vectors in households8. The northeastern region of Brazil is considered endemic for Chagas disease and is second among the top regions infested by triatomines9,10, with the State of Bahia harboring the greatest diversity of triatomine species in the country11,12.

The rural area of the State of Ceará has caatinga-type vegetation, and precarious human dwellings, which facilitate the presence of several triatomine species that are important in the transmission of Chagas disease in Ceará: Triatoma brasiliensis, Triatoma pseudomaculata, Panstrongylus megistus, Panstrongylus lutzi, and Rhodnius nasutus13. These species are the most important in the Brazilian caatinga region, with a high invasive potential, and occupy a place in the domestic, peridomiciliary, and wild chain of Chagas disease11,14.

Since the first studies carried out by Alencar, Chagas disease has been highly prevalent in the State of Ceará (14.8%), especially in the municipality of Limoeiro do Norte15. Because of the high number of triatomines captured in Limoeiro do Norte by Vasconcelos in 2013 and the difficulty of controlling T. brasiliensis and T. pseudomaculata in this municipality16, we decided to assess the prevalence of Chagas disease (i.e., rates of infestation and triatomine infection) in Southeastern Ceará, where Limoeiro do Norte is located, as well as to identify host species (domiciliary, peridomiciliary, or wild) that contribute to the maintenance and dispersion of T. cruzi so that preventive action can be taken to control the disease.

METHODS

Study design and sampling

This is a retrospective descriptive study that was performed using records from the Vector Control Center of Ceará [Núcleo de Controle de Vetores do Ceará (NUVET)], of the State Health Secretariat of Ceará State [Secretaria da Saúde do Estado do Ceará (SESA). The data were collected from 2009 to 2015 and included all the municipalities (11 towns) belonging to the 13th Regional Health Coordination (CRES) in Southeastern Ceará: Alto Santo, Ererê, Iracema, Jaguaribara, Jaguaribe, Limoeiro do Norte, Pereiro, Potiretama, Quixeré, São João do Jaguaribe, and Tabuleiro do Norte (Figure 1A and Figure 1B).

FIGURE 1: A) Map of the American continent highlighting Brazil, Ceará and Southeastern Ceará. Source: http://althistory.wikia.com/wiki/File:Americas_map.png; https://openclipart.org/detail/226709/mapa-brasil; https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lista_de_municípios_do_Ceará (with adaptations). B) Data collected in 11 towns Municipalities of the 13th Regional Health Coordination, in Southeastern Ceará, Brazil, from 2009 to 2015. Source: http://pt.wikipedia.org (with adaptations). 

During the study period, both nymph and adult triatomines were collected from intra- and peridomiciliary (chicken coops, barns, pigpens, cattle sheds) areas, and dead triatomines were excluded, as it is not possible to detect T. cruzi in dead vectors using the abdominal compression method. In this method, the material obtained from triatomine compression is placed on a microscope slide, along with a drop of 0.9% saline, covered with a coverslip, and then analyzed under an optical microscope.

Data analysis

In order to identify statistical associations between collection site and triatomine species, the data were analyzed using chi-square tests (p < 0.05) in GraphPadPrism 5.0. which allowed us to identify statistical associations between collection site and triatomine species. Proportions, infection rates, and infestation rates were estimated using simple percentage calculations.

RESULTS

Triatomine collection

During the seven-year study period, 32,364 triatomine specimens were collected from 11 municipalities in Southeastern Ceará, with 3,155 (9.8%) collected from intradomiciliary areas and 29,209 (90.3%) from peridomiciliary areas, and 31,736 (98.1%) of the specimens were analyzed (Table 1 and Table 2). Of the seven years, the greatest number triatomines (n = 8,548; 25.6%) was collected in 2010, and of the 11 municipalities, the greatest number of triatomines was collected from Tabuleiro do Norte (n = 8,144), followed by Ererê (n = 5,976) and Jaguaribe (n = 4,607; Table 1).

TABLE 1: Frequency of triatomines collected in Southeastern Ceará, Brazil, from 2009 to 2015. 

Years
Municipality 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Total
n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%) n (%)
Alto Santo 533 (9.6) 483 (5.6) 169 (3.9) 83 (1.5) 13 (0.3) 51 (2.0) 28 (1.5) 1,360 (4.2)
Ererê 1,426 (25.8) 1,533 (17.9) 330 (7.6) 1,914 (34.5) 198 (5.0) 245 (9.5) 330 (17.5) 5,976 (18.5)
Iracema 391 (7.1) 329 (3.9) 311 (7.2) NA 1 (0.02) NA NA 1,032 (3.2)
Jaguaribara 113 (2.1) 285 (3.33) 119 (2.8) 262 (4.7) 13 (0.3) NA NA 792 (2.4)
Jaguaribe 437 (7.9) 841 (9.8) 972 (22.5) 1,236 (22.2) 751 (19.0) 204 (7.9) 166 (8.8) 4,607 (14.2)
Limoeiro do Norte 1,206 (21.8) 921 (10.8) 396 (9.1) 39 (0.7) 1,020 (25.9) 281 (10.9) 15 (0.8) 3,878 (12.0)
Pereiro NA 194 (2.8) NA NA 94 (2.9) 1 (0.03) 5 (0.3) 294 (0.9)
Potiretama 375 (6.8) 1,016 (11.9) 420 (9.7) 32 (0.6) 4 (0.1) 420 (16.2) 599 (31.8) 2,866 (8.9)
Quixeré 87 (1.6) 416 (4.9) 492 (11.4) 657 (11.8) 163 (4.0) 199 (7.7) 328 (17.4) 2,342 (7.2)
São João do Jaguaribe 209 (3.8) 308 (3.6) 120 (2.8) 91 (1.6) 166 (4.2) 163 (6.3) 46 (2.5) 1,103 (3.4)
Tabuleiro do Norte 757 (13.7) 2,222 (26.0) 997 (23.0) 1,242 (22.4) 1,509 (38.3) 1,022 (39.5) 365 (19.4) 8,114 (25.1)
Total 5,534 (100.0) 8,548 (100.0) 4,326 (100.0) 5,556 (100.0) 3,932 (100.0) 2,586 (100.0) 1,882 (100.0) 32,364 (100.0)

NA: data was not collected. Source: Vector Control Center of Ceará.

TABLE 2: Frequency of examined and infected triatomines collected in southeastern Ceará, Brazil, from 2009 to 2015. 

Years
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Total
Municipality No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.
exam. infect. exam. infect. exam. infect. exam. infect. exam. infect. exam. infect. exam. infect. exam. infect.
(%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%)
Alto Santo 532 7 481 0 169 1 83 2 13 0 51 0 28 0 1,357 10
(1.3) (0.59) (2.41) (0.73)
Ererê 1281 9 1,491 1 330 0 1,894 4 198 0 245 0 330 0 5,769 14
(0.7) (0.1) (0.2) (0.2)
Iracema 389 1 329 1 311 0 NA NA 1 0 NA NA NA NA 1,030 2
(0.3) (0.3) (0.2)
Jaguaribara 113 00 284 0 119 0 262 0 13 0 NA NA NA NA 791 0
Jaguaribe 435 2 754 5 972 0 1,232 1 751 1 204 0 166 0 4,514 9
(0.5) (0.7) (0.1) (0.1) (0.2)
Limoeiro do Norte 1,198 91 905 33 396 1 39 26 1,020 32 280 15 15 7 3,853 205
(7.6) (3.7) (0.25) (66.7) (3.1) (5.4) (46.7) (5.3)
Pereiro NA NA 194 0 NA NA NA NA 94 0 01 1 05 0 294 1
(100.0) (0.3)
Potiretama 368 4 1,009 09 419 0 32 0 4 0 420 0 599 0 2,851 13
(1.1) (0.9) (0.5)
Quixeré 86 3 299 17 492 1 556 13 163 16 199 2 328 4 2,123 56
(3.5) (5.7) (0.20) (2.3) (9.3) (1.0) (1.2) (2.6)
São João do Jaguaribe 207 3 308 2 120 0 91 6 166 5 163 0 46 1 1,101 17
(1.5) (0.7) (6.6) (3.0) (2.2) (1.5)
Tabuleiro do Norte 757 24 2,166 39 996 0 1,238 25 1,509 9 1,022 4 365 4 8,053 105
(3.2) (1.8) (2.0) (0.6) (0.4) (1.1) (1.3)
Total 5,366 144 8,220 107 4,324 3 5,427 77 3,932 63 2,585 22 1,882 16 31,736 432
(2.7) (1.3) (0.1) (1.4) (1.6) (0.9) (0.9) (1.4)

No. exam: number of vectors examined. No. infect. (%): Number of positive results (infection rate). NA: data was not collected. Source: Vector Control Center of Ceará.

Of the 3,155 intradomiciliary specimens, 350 (11.1%), 637 (20.2%), 381 (12.1%), 661 (21.0%), 501 (15.9%), 249 (7.9%), and 376 (11.9%) were collected in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively, and the most frequently collected intradomiciliary species was T. brasiliensis (n = 2,368; 75.1%), followed by T. pseudomaculata (n = 545; 17.3%; Table 3 and Table 4).

TABLE 3: Frequency of triatomines collected in southeastern Ceará, Brazil, from 2009 to 2011. 

Years
Species 2009 2010 2011
Intra Peri Intra Peri Intra Peri
A N A N A N A N A N A N
(%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%)
Triatoma brasiliensis 66 126 150 864 255 269 561 1,645 99 185 396 947
(45.2) (61.8) (11.2) (22.5) (83.1) (81.5) (26.4) (28.4) (74.4) (74.6) (3.0) (36.1)
Triatoma pseudomaculata 55 74 1,166 2,939 34 60 1,526 4,120 28 60 909 1672
(37.7) (36.3) (86.88) (76.5) (11.1) (18.2) (71.8) (71.2) (21.1) (24.2) (68.9) (63.7)
Panstrongylus megistus 1 0 3 8 2 0 3 0 1 0 8 1
(0.7) (0.22) (0.2) (0.7) (0.1) (0.8) (0.6) (0.1)
Panstrongylus lutzi 7 0 2 02 10 01 2 6 2 3 2 5
(4.8) (0.15) (0.1) (3.3) (0.3) (0.1) (0.1) (1.5) (1.2) (0.2) (0.2)
Rhodnius nasutus 17 4 21 29 6 0 34 14 3 0 4 1
(11.6) (2,0) (1.56) (0.8) (2.0) (1.6) (0.2) (2.3) (0.3) (0.1)
Total 146 204 1,342 3,842 307 330 2,126 5,785 133 248 1,319 2,626

Intra: Intradomiciliary. Peri: Peridomiciliary. A (%): Number of adults (% total number of individuals). N (%): Number of nymphs (% total number of individuals). Source: Vector Control Center of Ceará.

TABLE 4: Frequency of triatomines collected in southeastern Ceará, Brazil, from 2012 to 2015. 

Years
Species 2012 2013 2014 2015
Intra Peri Intra Peri Intra Peri Intra Peri
A N A N A N A N A N A N A N A N
(%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%) (%)
Triatoma brasiliensis 162 347 618 1,177 151 232 444 1,257 62 111 321 671 105 198 116 302
(63.3) (85.7) (35.7) (37.2) (63.5) (88.2) (41.7) (53.1) (53.0) (84.1) (43.9) (41.8) (69.1) (88.4) (21.2) (31.5)
Triatoma pseudomaculata 46 41 1,068 1,949 39 19 613 1,103 24 11 369 913 28 26 424 646
(17.9) (10.1) (61.6) (61.6) (16.4) (7.2) (57.6) (46.6) (20.5) (8.3) (43.9) (56.9) (18.4) (11.6) (77.4) (67.4)
Panstrongylus megistus 0 0 1 6 3 11 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
(0.1) (0.2) (1.3) (4.2) (0.9) (0.7)
Panstrongylus lutzi 10 1 03 1 16 0 0 1 06 10 1 0 7 0 0 0
(3.9) (04) (0.2) (0.03) (6.7) (0.04) (5.1) (7.6) (0.14) (4.6)
Rhodnius nasutus 38 16 43 29 29 1 7 6 24 0 40 22 11 0 8 10
(14.8) (6.3) (2.5) (0.93) (12.2) (0.4) (0.8) (0.3) (20.5) (5.5) (1.4) (7.2) (1.5) (1.0)
Total 256 405 1733 3162 238 263 1064 2367 117 132 731 1606 152 224 548 958

Intra: Intradomiciliary. Peri: Peridomiciliary. A (%): Number of adults (% total number of individuals). N (%): Number of nymphs (% total number of individuals). Source: Vector Control Center of Ceará.

In the present study, more nymphs were collected than adults, from both intra- and peridomiciliary areas, with 1,806 (8.2%) and 20,346 (91.9%) of the nymphs collected from intra- and peridomiciliary areas. More specimens were also collected from peridomiciliary areas (n = 29,209; 90.3%) than intradomiciliary areas.

The triatomines collected from peridomiciliary area included T. pseudomaculata (n = 19,417; 66.5%), followed by T. brasiliensis (n = 9,469; 32.4%), R. nasutus (n = 268; 0.9%), P. megistus (n = 30; 0.1%), and P. lutzi [n = 25; 0.1% (Table 3 and Table 4)].

There was a statistical association between the occurrence of T. pseudomaculata and peridomiciliary areas, whereby the proportions of T. pseudomaculata were higher than those of the other species in peridomiciliary areas, and a similar association was noted for T. brasiliensis in intradomiciliary areas (p < 0.001; Table 3 and Table 4).

Infection rate

A total of 432 triatomines tested positive for T. cruzi infection, indicating an infection rate of 1.4% (Table 2). The greatest number of infected triatomines (n = 144; 2.7%) was observed in 2009, with more adults being infected than nymphs, and during the same year (i.e., 2009), the greatest infection rate was observed in specimens from Limoeiro do Norte (7.6%), followed by the specimens from Quixeré (3.5%) and Tabuleiro do Norte (3.2%). Specimens from Limoeiro do Norte also yielded the greatest number of infected specimens throughout the entire study period (n = 205), indicating an infection rate of 5.3% (Table 2).

DISCUSSION

Triatomine collection

From 1975 to 1980, a national investigation was carried out, during which 15,342 triatomine specimens were collected from northeastern Brazil, and in 1996, the Chagas Disease Control Program collected 290,576 specimens, of which 201,156 (69.2%) were collected from northeast Brazil. Of the total number of triatomines collected in the northeast, 64,714 (32.2%) were collected from Ceará alone11. Even after more than 30 years of research and efforts aimed at controlling Chagas disease, the results of the present study are still very similar and the number of triatomines collected remains very high. Another study, which was conducted in Jaguaruna, Ceará, over a three-year period (2000 to 2002), collected 3,082 triatomines17, which is ten-fold fewer than the number collected NUVET from 2009 to 2015. Therefore, despite advances in vector control, Southeastern Ceará still harbors a large population of triatomines.

In addition, more nymphs (n = 22,152, 68.5%) were collected than adults (n = 10,212, 31.6%) during the present study, thereby corroborating the results of Vasconcelos et al. who collected three times more nymphs (n = 2,204) than adults (n = 659) from Limoeiro do Norte in 201316.

These findings indicate, according to WHO entomological indicators, that triatomine colonization is still occurring and reinforce statements by Coura, in 2008, and Coura and Viñas, in 2010, that man, through burning and other changes to natural triatomine habitat, has forced these insects to adapt to manmade environments. Coura and Borges-Pereira, in 2012, stated that the adaptation of triatomines to household environments might be the most concerning matter of Chagas disease transmission4,18,19.

In the present study, T. pseudomaculata was the most frequently collected species in all the municipalities, except Quixeré, in which T. brasiliensis predominated. These results differ from those reported by Sarquis et al.17, who collected 3,082 triatomines in Jaguaruana, Ceará, from 2000 to 2002, with 2,307 (74.9%) identified as T. brasiliensis and 229 (7.4%) identified as T. pseudomaculata specimens, but corroborate the results of Vasconcelos et al., who also collected a higher proportion of T. pseudomaculata specimens, Limoeiro do Norte from 2006 to 200916. A notable aspect of T. pseudomaculata is that is a low-efficacy vector, in that only 10% of T. cruzi within the species are able to develop into the infectious metacyclic form19. Therefore, the risk that these specimens contribute to the transmission of Chagas disease is relatively low.

Nevertheless, T. pseudomaculata have been reported to colonize dwellings in Berilo, Minas Gerais20, and in the urban area of Sobral, Ceará21. Because the species is well-adapted to high temperatures, it is usually found in roofs and other parts of buildings that receive generous amount of sun22, thereby making such sites more significant in terms of T. cruzi transmission23. Chagas disease has been endemic to Ceará since the 1940s, as reported by Alencar et al.24. Lima et al.25 collected 829 R. nasutus specimens from palm trees in the rural and peri-urban areas of Jaguaruana, Ceará, and Dias et al.26 reported that palm trees are the natural habitat of Rhodnius spp. and that microclimate plays an important role in the interaction of Rhodnius spp. and palm trees. However, in the present study, 417 R. nasutus specimens were collected from homes, rather than from palm trees.

Freitas et al.27 reported that R. nasutus specimens occur in households more frequently during the period when carnauba trees are pruned and suggested that anthropogenic environmental degradation contributes to the domiciliation of triatomines and facilitates vector transmission of Chagas disease in the municipality of Limoeiro do Norte.

A study carried out in the municipality of Russas, Ceará, from 2008 to 2009, reported a high (28.6%) prevalence of T. cruzi infection among 761 triatomine specimens, mostly Triatoma brasiliensis22, and Silva et al.28 reported an infection rate of 8.8% for triatomines collected from 113 municipalities in the State of Pernambuco, most inside households, in 2006 and 2007, with P. lutzi exhibiting the highest rates of natural infection. Therefore, we recommend that Chagas disease surveillance and vector control should be improved in the State of Pernambuco.

The gradual reduction in specimens collected by NUVET from 2009 to 2015 may have been influenced by control program success, improvement of housing, and improvement of the sanitary habits of the population. Otherwise, it may be the result of worsening triatomine control programs, owing to reduced funding, as investments in control programs for other emerging diseases, such as dengue fever and Zika virus, have increased. Together, these results indicate that efforts to educate populations in recognizing triatomines and notifying health authorities should be extended and reinforced in order to ensure that the disease is controlled in places where it is still found.

Infection rate

Even though the infection rate of T. brasiliensis was relatively low (0.8%) in the present study, Sarquis et al.17 reported an infection rate of 15.3% for the species, and many other studies have reported T. brasiliensis as the most frequently collected and infected species29,30. Therefore, T. brasiliensis likely plays an important role in the transmission of Chagas disease in the northeast region and, especially, in the State of Ceará. Meanwhile, the infection rate of R. nasutus (24.3%) in the present study was similar to the rate reported by Vasconcelos et al.16 (19.4%).

Food eclecticism

In the present study, P. megistus was the least frequently collected species, with only 50 specimens collected in total. This is in contrast to the findings of Villela et al. who reported that P. megistus was the most frequently collected species in the State of Minas Gerais, with a total of 1,380 specimens (99.3% of all triatomines) collected from 2003 to 2007. However, this finding was expected as the species predominates triatomine communities in midwestern, eastern, and southeastern Brazil31,32. In addition, some authors have reported that P. megistus exhibits food eclecticism, feeding on the blood of birds, humans, cats, and other animals, with human blood being the second most frequently observed in their digestive tracts33,34.

Moreover, 60-70% of T. cruzi in P. megistus are able to transform into the form that infects humans and other vertebrates19. Therefore, according to Perlowagora-Szumlewicz34, who reported that metacyclogenesis is one of the most important factors in disease transmission, this species may pose a risk of Chagas disease transmission, even though it was relatively infrequent.

Similarly, P. lutzi was also relatively infrequent but is still a concern for Chagas disease transmission as the species food eclecticism32,35, a factor in the transmission of Chagas disease, and because it is considered one of the most important secondary species for Chagas disease maintenance, owing to its high rates of natural infection and great capacity for household invasion, as it can fly into dwellings. This species also exhibited the highest rates of infection in the present study.

Considering all the observations and limitations of the present study, it can be concluded that the municipalities of Southeastern Ceará need to intensify their surveillance efforts, in order to prevent the colonization of intra- and peridomiciliary areas by these species, and because nymphs were more prominent than adults, suggesting domiciliation and a higher risk of infection for the exposed population, this is especially important for households.

Although the infection rates observed in the present study were relatively low, when compared to previous studies, the infestation rate of each municipality was quite high, which confirms that Chagas disease is still a matter of concern.

Therefore, considering that the presence of infected vectors in the household is an important risk factor for the transmission of Chagas disease, the Chagas Disease Control Program should intensify its efforts in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

The involvement of the populace is also crucial for establishing and maintaining permanent epidemiological surveillance.

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the Regional Laboratory of Endemic Diseases of Limoeiro do Norte Ceará and to the Vector Control Center of Ceará of the State Health Secretariat of Ceará State for providing data and to the Chagas Disease Control Program health agents for providing technical support.

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Financial support: This study was supported by the Cearense Foundation for the Support of Scientific and Technological Development [Fundação Cearense de Apoio ao Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (FUNCAP)].

Received: October 17, 2017; Accepted: March 07, 2018

Corresponding author: Dra. Arduina Sofia Ortet de Barros Vasconcelos Fidalgo e-mail: sofiafidalgo86@hotmal.com

Conflicts of interest: The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

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