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Ciência Rural

Print version ISSN 0103-8478On-line version ISSN 1678-4596

Cienc. Rural vol.38 no.3 Santa Maria May/June 2008 



Biometry of Trypanosoma vivax found in a calf in the state of Maranhão, Brazil


Biometria de Trypanosoma vivax em bezerro do Estado do Maranhão, Brasil



Rita de Maria Seabra Nogueira de Candanedo GuerraI, 1; Assuero Batista Feitosa JúniorII; Hamilton Pereira SantosI; Ana Lúcia Abreu-SilvaI; Ana Clara Gomes dos SantosIII

IDepartamento de Patologia, Universidade Estadual do Maranhão (UEMA), Cidade Universitária Paulo VI, Tirirical, CP 09, 65055-970, São Luís, MA, Brasil. E-mail:
IIMédico Veterinário autônomo, São Luís, MA, Brasil
IIIPrograma de Pós-graduação em Ciências Veterinárias, UEMA, São Luís, MA, Brasil




Blood samples from cattle presenting signs of anemia, lethargy, weakness and general weight loss were collected. Trypanosoma vivax was detected in the blood smears of a calf. This paper reports the first recorded occurrence of T. vivax in the state of Maranhão, northeastern region of Brazil, and provides the biometrical data of the parasite.

Key words: Trypanosoma vivax, Maranhão, bovine, biometry.


Amostras de sangue foram coletadas de bovinos que apresentaram sinais de anemia, letargia, fraqueza e perda de peso. Trypanosoma vivax foi detectado em esfregaços sanguíneos de um bezerro. Este trabalho registra, pela primeira vez, a ocorrência de T. vivax no Estado do Maranhão, Região nordeste do Brasil, e fornece os dados biométricos do parasito.

Palavras-chave: Trypanosoma vivax, Maranhão, bovino, biometria.



Trypanosomiasis is one of the world's most important human and livestock disease. The species of animal trypanosome, with particular economical importance in South America include Trypanosoma vivax and Trypanosoma evansi. T. vivax is a blood parasite of ruminants, originating in Africa (LEVINE, 1973). In South America it was first described in oxen suffering from an emaciating disease in French Guyana (LEGER & VIENNE, 1919) and subsequently in Central America and some Caribbean Islands. The first report in Brazil was in the early 1970s in a water buffalo (Bubalis bubalis) from the vicinity of the city of Belém and in cattle and sheep elsewhere in the state of Pará (SHAW & LAINSON, 1972). New records were reported in the states of Amapá (SERRA-FREIRE, 1981, 1983), Mato Grosso (SILVA et al., 1996) and Mato Grosso do Sul (PAIVA et al., 1997).

SILVA et al. (1996) reported an outbreak of trypanosomiasis in bovines of the Brazilian Pantanal due to T. vivax, characterized by ematiation, abortion and death. More recently, LINHARES et al. (2006) confirmed the occurrence of an outbreak in a bovine herd in Tocantins, and BATISTA et al. (2007) confirmed an outbreak in cattle from the semi-arid region of Paraíba.

The present study reports for the first time the presence of T. vivax in blood smears from a naturally infected calf in the state of Maranhão, Brazil, and gives the biometrical data of the parasite.

In August of 2003 in a dairy farm located in the village of Colombo, municipality of Itapecuru-Mirim, in the state of Maranhão, animals, especially calves, showed clinical signs of anemia, such as paleness of the oral and conjunctiva mucous membranes, lethargy and weakness. Because hemoparasite infection was suspected, blood samples were obtained from 20 cows and 11 calves. Thin blood smears were done and stained with Giemsa.

The examination revealed trypomastigotes of Trypanosoma in the blood smear of one calf that died in a few days. For the biometrics characterization, 50 trypanosomes were measured using an optic microscope (Olympus BX 15) connected to a specific software (Image-PrpPlus). The biometrics data was compiled as described by HOARE (1972).

The trypomastigotes forms were monomorphic, the posterior end typically rounded, a free flagellum present, the kinetoplast large and terminal and an undulating inconspicuous membrane. The description is compatible with the one made by several authors for T. vivax (Figure 1).

This is the first recorded occurrence of T. vivax in the state of Maranhão. This result suggests that T. vivax is spreading throughout Brazilian territory. Also in the northeastern region of Brazil, BATISTA et al. (2007) reported an outbreak of trypanosomiasis by T. vivax in Paraíba. According to these authors, data obtained suggested that the semiarid region is non-endemic for trypanosomiasis and the disease occurred due to introduction of the parasite in a susceptible herd after an apparent rise in the Tabanus spp. population. LINHARES et al. (2006) reported for the first time the occurrence of T. vivax in Tocantins, in a herd which had come from São Paulo. The authors emphasize the potential risk of introducing animals from free areas to enzootic ones, where the parasite probably circulates among wild mammals.

According to JONES & DÁVILA (2001), T. vivax in the New World is an example of a pathogen that has spread beyond its original distribution range through human intervention, both in spanning the thousands of miles between Africa and South America and in propagating itself after introduction in new areas; hence, the need to identify this pathogen across South America.

In 100% of the measured trypanosomes, kinetoplast (K) was located near the posterior end. In 41 (82%) the nucleus was near the anterior end. The range of lengths were 15.38µm to 24.26µm (including free flagellum 3.06µm to 8.63µm and means of 6.01µm) (Table 1).

Morphologic studies performed by HOARE (1972) state that the range of lengths of T. vivax were from 18µm to 31µm (including free flagellum 3-6µm long), with means from 21µm to 25.4µm, over 90% of the measurements were between 20µm and 26µm. The dimensions of T. vivax firstly reported in Brazil (SHAW & LAINSON, 1972) were 22.77µm (ranging from 19.2µm to 25.0µm). SILVA et al. (1996) found in the Pantanal forms with means of 18.73µm (ranging from 11.34µm to 21.87µm). LINHARES et al. (2006) obtained a mean of 19.42 µm. We found a dimension of 19.9µm. (ranging from 15.38µm to 24.26µm).

Maybe the differences observed in biometrical data could be related to the phase of the disease (acute or chronic). FAIRBAIRN (1953) showed that short forms were characteristic of the strains causing acute disease in cattle in West Africa, while long forms are associated chiefly with strains causing chronic infection in East Africa. DÁVILA et al. (1997) compared measurements of T. vivax in blood films from naturally infected bovines from Brazil and Bolivia. They believe that shorter forms reported in their work could be related to the acute disease observed by them. In water buffalos, SHAW & LAINSON (1972) reached the same conclusion with regard to the Belém parasite. However, LINHARES et al. (2006) stated that further studies will be necessary in order to elucidate the differences in size of the Brazilian T. vivax samples and its possible association with virulence.

The presence of T. vivax, or antibodies against it, was demonstrated in Latin American countries in cattle, including Brazil (SHAW & LAINSON, 1972, SERRA-FREIRE, 1981, SILVA et al., 1996, PAIVA et al., 1997, LINHARES et al., 2006, BATISTA et al., 2007); according to the literature, few outbreaks were described in South America. In Brazil, all reported outbreaks are currently restricted to the Pantanal region (SILVA el al., 1996), Tocantins (LINHARES et al., 2006) and Paraíba (BATISTA et al., 2007). Further studies will be necessary in order to understand the possible impact of T. vivax infection in cattle in the state of Maranhão.



To Dr Célia Regina de Sousa from the Laboratório de Caracterização Microestrutural de Materiais from Universidade Federal do Maranhão for providing us technical support.



BATISTA, J.S. et al. Tryponosomiasis by Trypanosoma vivax in cattle in the Brazilian semiarid: description of an outbreak and lesions in the nervous system. Veterinary Parasitology, v.143, p.174-181, 2007.        [ Links ]

DÁVILA, A.M.R. et al. Morphological and biometrical differences among Tryponosoma vivax isolates from Brazil and Bolivia. Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, v.92, n.3, p.357-358, 1997.        [ Links ]

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LEVINE, N.D. Protozoan parasites of domestic animals and of man. Minneapolis: Burgess, 1973. 406p.        [ Links ]

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PAIVA, F. et al. Ocorrência de Trypanosoma vivax em bovinos no estado de Mato Grosso do Sul. Revista Brasileira de Parasitologia Veterinária, v.6, n.2, suppl.1, p.349, 1997.        [ Links ]

SERRA-FREIRE, N.M. Oiapoque-outro foco de Trypanosoma vivax no Brasil. Revista Brasileira de Medicina Veterinária, v.4, p.30-31, 1981.        [ Links ]

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Received 01.24.07
Approved 08.01.07



1 Autor para correspondência.

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