PAGES: 17-23 DOI: 10.1590/0074-02760170169 Full paper
Surveillance of seroepidemiology and morbidity of Chagas disease in the Negro River, Brazilian Amazon

José Rodrigues Coura1,+, Angela CV Junqueira1, João Marcos BB Ferreira2,3

1Fundação Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Laboratório de Doenças Parasitárias, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil
2Universidade do Estado do Amazonas, Programa de Pós-Graduação em Medicina Tropical, Manaus, AM, Brasil
3Fundação de Medicina Tropical Dr Heitor Vieira Dourado, Manaus, AM, Brasil


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.

Chagas diseasein the Brazilian Amazon Region was previously regarded as an enzootic diseaseof wild animals, from the time when Chagas (1924) confirmed that its cause wasTrypanosoma cruzi, a parasite found by Abhen-Athar in the common squirrelmonkey (Saimiri sciureus), in the state of Pará in 1922.Since then, a variety of mammal species (marsupials, bats, rodents, carnivores,edentates, and primates) native to the Amazon Region have been described asreservoirs of T. cruzi (Coura & Junqueira 2012). TableI shows the different species that form wild reservoirs for T. cruziin the Brazilian Amazon Region and the references for the respective authors.

Although at least16 species of wild triatomine exist in the Brazilian Amazon Region and 10 havebeen found to be infected with T. cruzi (Table II),no triatomines with adaptation to human homes have been detected in this region,except for Triatoma rubrofasciata, an uninfected species exclusivelyfound in port areas.



Valente et al.(1998) found Panstrongylus geniculatus in pigsties on the Island of Marajóand Luitgards-Moura et al. (2005) found Triatoma maculata in henhousesin agricultural colonisation areas in Roraima, peridomestic areas, and occasionallyhomes, but without adaptation. However, these situations indicate that the vectorsare present in close contact with humans, and thus there is a future risk ofadaptation.

Transmission ofChagas disease in the Brazilian Amazon Region may occur incidentally when humansinvade the wild ecotope, when vectors or marsupials invade human homes, or throughthe faeces and urine of triatomines or secretions from the scent glands of marsupials(Fig. 1). This occurs in the following situations: (a) contaminationof raw or cooked foods (açaí and others); (b) as a work-relatedillness of piassaba fibre gatherers (Fig. 2) and membersof their families (Fig. 3); and (c) occasionally when triatominescome into contact with people in their homes and/or in the surrounding areains search of food sources because of lack of reservoirs in enzootic areas (Couraet al. 1994, Coura 2013).







Between when Shawet al. (1969) described the first four acute autochthonous cases of Chagas diseasein Belém, Pará, and 1992, only 38 additional cases of this diseasehave been described in the Brazilian Amazon Region: 21 in Pará, ninein Amapá, four in Maranhão, three in Amazonas, and one in Acre.Since then, hundreds of cases have been described in acute outbreaks of Chagasdisease and serological surveys (Coura et al. 1995a, b, 1999, 2002a, b, Valenteet al. 1999, 2009, Pinto et al. 2008, Brum-Soares et al. 2010, and several others).

The risks of Chagasdisease have become endemic in the Brazilian Amazon regions and depend on thefollowing factors: (1) the presence of 38 mammal species in six orders: Marsupialia(Didelphiomorphia), Chiroptera, Rodentia, Edentata (Xenarthra), Carnivora, andPrimates; (2) the presence of 16 species of wild triatomines, of which 10 areinfected with T. cruzi, which penetrate homes or come into contact withpeople when enter forests to hunt or gather plant material (such as piassabafibres); (3) extensive deforestation involving the displacement of wild animals,which stimulates triatomines to seek blood to feed on, in peridomestic and domesticareas (pigsties, henhouses, and people living in these homes); (4) immigrationof people and animals with T. cruzi infection from endemic areas to theAmazon Region; and (5) lack of knowledge among people in the Amazon Region,regarding Chagas disease, its transmission mechanisms, and methods of avoidingit.

Studies of Chagasdisease in the Rio Negro microregion, Brazilian Amazon Region - Over thelast 20 years, from 1991 to 2011, we conducted five seroepidemiological andclinical studies of T. cruzi infection using samples from thepopulation of the Negro microregion in the Brazilian Amazon Region. The surveysincluded 7286 people living in the main settlement of the municipality of Barcelos,which is in this microregion. The people included in the sample ranged in agefrom children over the age of one year to elderly people over the age of 60years. Initially, one blood sample on filter paper was collected per familycluster among the population living in one in four of the inhabited houses (approximately25%), respectively in 1991, 1993, and 1997. In 2011, blood was collected fromthe entire population present that permitted collection. Screening tests byimmunofluorescence on filter paper was positive in 12.5% of the 710 blood samplescollected in 1991, 13.7% of the 658 samples in 1993, and 13.2% of the 886 samplesin 1997. However, when we applied indirect immunofluorescence, enzyme-linkedimmunosorbent assay (ELISA), and western blotting to the serum of the casesthat were positive on the filter paper, positivity was confirmed in only 2.8-5%of the 2254 samples collected in 1991, 1993, and 1997. This may be because ofan error in interpretation of the technique, in which cases were considered"positive" if immunofluorescent spots were present on the membrane rather thanover the entire parasite (Coura et al. 1995a, b, 1999, 2002a, b, 2013). However,for the 4880 blood samples collected from the entire population present in 2011,correction of this error resulted in positivity in only 4.5% of cases (Couraet al. 2013). Similar results may be observed for riverine population of Pará(Valente et al. 1999, 2009, Pinto et al. 2008).

A study of morbidityin which 38 seropositive cases were paired with the same number of age- andsex-matched seronegative cases showed abnormal electrocardiogram results in36.8% of seropositive cases and 21.5% of seronegative cases, while the echocardiogramresults were abnormal in 31.6% of seropositive cases and 18.4% of seronegativecases. Precordial pain and palpitations were observed more frequently in seropositivecases. Radiological examination of the oesophagus showed no differences betweenseropositive and seronegative cases (Brum-Soares et al. 2010).

New seroepidemiologicalsurvey among piassaba fibre gatherers and members of their families - Anew seroepidemiological survey was conducted in 2015-2016, specifically amongpiassaba fibre (Leopoldinia piassaba) gatherers and members of theirfamilies who accompanied them. The locations surveyed were creeks of the Aracá,Curudurí, Demimi, Ererê, and Padauiri rivers, which are tributarieson the left bank of the Negro River, in the municipality of Barcelos (whichis 490 km from Manaus, the state capital of Amazonas); Barcelos-Cauréshighway; Preto River in Santa Isabel do Rio Negro; and Marié River, onthe right bank of the Negro River. Our operational base and field laboratoryfor this new survey was in the former hospital of the Salesian mission in themain settlement of the municipality of Barcelos. This location formed an extensionof our parasitic diseases laboratory at the Oswaldo Cruz Institute (Fiocruz).At this base, fieldwork materials (launches, tents, and other field materials)and bench materials (microscopes, centrifuges, glass cabinets, fridges, freezersand other equipment) were available. Fig. 4 shows the locationof the municipalities of Barcelos and Santa Isabel do Rio Negro, and Fig.5 shows the locations of some of the above mentioned rivers.






The questionnaireapplied revealed that 100% of the 482 patients (piassaba fibre gatherers andmembers of their families) recognised the triatomine Rhodnius brethesi,which they had observed in the piassaba plantations. Moreover, 81% said thatthey had seen these triatomines in their shacks and 79% said that they had beenbitten between one and ten times by these insects. Only 21% said that they didnot know whether they had ever been bitten by these insects. The 25 seropositivepatients (Table III) said that they had been bitten more thanten times by these insects.



Of the 482 piassabafibre gatherers and members of their families who underwent serological examination,only 273 attended our field base for detailed clinical examination and electrocardiogram.History-taking revealed complaints of palpitations, precordial pain, and dyspnoeaupon effort, and clinical examination revealed extrasystoles, tachycardia, andbradycardia. The presence of these conditions was independent of whether theindividuals showed positive results in serological examination. Electrocardiographicabnormalities were presented by the 273 patients who underwent this examination,among whom 22% showed conditions that were potentially attributable to Chagasdisease. However, only 25 of the 482 cases presented convergent positive serologicaltests (indirect immunofluorescence + ELISA) that were compatible with infectionby T. cruzi. Thus, the prevalence of serologically positive cases was5.2%. Among the 25 serological-positive cases, the average age was 48.4 years(range 17-82 years, median 45 years).



The factors determiningthe morbidity due to Chagas disease and its evolution in the Negro River microregion,state of Amazonas, relate directly to the population's intensity of exposureto wild vectors, particularly in piassaba plantations in the region, and typesof T. cruzi strain (Tc1 and Z3), which still show little adaptation tohumans. In studies conducted by Araujo (2000) of 10 T. cruzi strains(Tc1 and Z3) in this region (two isolated from humans, two from marsupials,and six from R. brethesi), it was shown that these strains had low-virulencecharacteristics. Analysis of these parameters revealed that the prevalence ofT. cruzi infection and morbidity of Chagas disease in this region weredirectly related to the population's intensity of exposure. Exposure resultedfrom the working conditions of piassaba fire gatherers and possibly from thetype of wild strain of T. cruzi circulating in the area, as demonstratedby Albajar et al. (2003). These authors reported only two fatal cases of Chagasdisease in this area, and Xavier et al. (2006) reported three severe cases ofdisease leading to death shortly afterwards. The cases described by both authorswere of piassaba gatherers subjected to frequent exposure over many years ofworking in the plantations.

R. brethesi,referred to as "piassaba louse" by the local population, has a specific nichehabitat in the palm species L. piassaba. This species contacts piassabafibre gatherers in the shacks set up close to the piassaba plantations. Transmissionof T. cruzi generally occurs through invasion of the shacks by triatominesat night, which search for blood meals from the piassaba fibre gatherers andmembers of their families when the reservoirs in their natural niche in thepalm trees are absent. Occasionally, triatomines attack the population outsideof their shacks in search of food.

In the variousstudies we conducted at many piassaba plantations in the Negro River region,we have collected marsupials, primates, rodents, carnivores, bats, and triatomines(R. brethesi) infected with T. cruzi to varying degrees. Thiscollection includes 240 animals from five species with different percentagesof T. cruzi (mean of 22.7%) and 949 triatomines (R. brethesi),among which only 19 were infected to give a rate of only 2%. Of the total of1189 animals and triatomines, 73 were infected with T. cruzi, and thusthe average was 6.14%. Based on these differences, triatomines use differentmethods for sucking blood from certain animal species or T. cruzi hassome difficulty in developing in some blood, leading to a low infection rateof only 2%.

Comments- (i) Chagas disease in the Negro River microregion, state of Amazonas, is awild enzootic disease in which the vectors transmit T. cruzi to piassabafibre gatherers and members of their families, predominantly in their shacks;(ii) the dominant vector for T. cruzi in this microregion is R. brethesi,which has a specific niche habitat in piassaba palm (L. piassaba), fromwhere the adult vectors fly out to the shacks of the piassaba fibre gatherersand members of their families to feed if no animals are present or if it isimpossible to suck the animals' blood; (iii) methods for preventing transmissionof Chagas disease in this region are very limited. Piassaba gatherers may beable to spray the piassaba palm trees and their shacks (to which the vectorsmigrate) with insecticide; (iv) use of mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide,for the piassaba gatherers' hammocks, may be recommendable. However, consideringthe heat in this area, it seems unlikely that a mosquito net would be used properly,i.e. as recommended for combating malaria in some areas; (v) finally, to decreasethe rate of this disease, we recommend the following measures, in addition tothose stated above: (a) to implement specific courses aimed at elementary schoolteachers who can provide guidance; (b) to train laboratory technicians and endemic-diseaseagents in early diagnoses of this disease among individuals in the acute phaseand provide immediate treatment; and (c) to provide information to local doctors,nurses, and healthcare agents to enable treatment of acute cases and referralof chronic cases of Chagas disease to regional hospitals.



Albajar P, LaredoSV, Terrazas MB, Coura JR. Miocardiopatia dilatada em pacientes com infecçãochagásica crônica. Relato de dois casos fatais autóctonesdo Rio Negro, estado do Amazonas. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2003; 36(3): 401-7.

Araujo IB. Estudomorfobiológico, histopatológico e enzimático de isoladosde Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas 1909) e Trypanosoma rangeli (Tejera1920) da Região do Médio e Alto Rio Negro, estados do Amazonas[Tese de Mestrado]. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Oswaldo Cruz; 2000. 102 pp.

Brum-Soares LM,Xavier SS, Sousa AS, Pereira JB, Ferreira JMBB, Costa IR, et al. Morbidade dadoença de Chagas em pacientes autóctones da microrregiãodo Rio Negro, Estado do Amazonas. Rev Soc Med Trop. 2010; 43(2): 170-7.

Chagas C. Infectionnaturelle dês singes du Pará (Chrysotrix sciureus) par Trypanosomacruzi. Comp Rend Séanc Soc Biol Ses Fin. 1924; 90(12): 873-6.

Coura JR, BarrettTV, Naranjo MA. Ataque de populações humanas por triatomíneossilvestres no Amazonas: uma nova forma de transmissão da infecçãochagásica? Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 1994; 27(4): 251-3.

Coura JR, JunqueiraACV, Boia MN, Fernandes O, Bonfante C, Campos JE, et al. Chagas disease in theBrazilian Amazon. IV. A new cross-sectional study. Rev Inst Med Trop SãoPaulo. 2002a; 44(3): 159-65.

Coura JR, JunqueiraACV, Boia MN, Fernandes O. Chagas disease: from bush to huts and houses. Isit the case of the Brazilian Amazon? Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1999; 94 (Suppl.1): 379-84.

Coura JR, JunqueiraACV, Fernandes O, Valente SAS, Miles MA. Emerging Chagas disease in AmazonianBrazil. Trends Parasitol. 2002b; 18(4): 171-6.

Coura JR, JunqueiraACV. Risks of endemicity, morbidity and perspectives regarding the control ofChagas disease in the Amazon Region. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2012; 107(2): 145-54.

Coura JR, NaranjoMA, Willcox HPF. Chagas' disease in the Brazilian Amazon. II. A serologicalsurvey. Rev Inst Med Trop São Paulo. 1995a; 37(2): 103-7.

Coura JR, Peña-MarquesMU, Guerra J, Zauza PL, Miguel JC, Pereira JB. A new survey of the serologyof human Trypanosoma cruzi infection in the Rio Negro, Brazilian Amazon.A critical analysis. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2013; 108(7): 909-13.

Coura JR, WillcoxHPF, Naranjo MA, Fernandes O, Paiva DD. Chagas disease in the Brazilian Amazon.III. A cross-se ctional study. Rev Inst Med Trop São Paulo. 1995b; 37(5):415-420.

Coura JR. The mainscenaries of Chagas disease. The vectors, blood and oral transmissions. A comprehensiveReview. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2013; 110(3): 277-82.

Deane LM, DamascenoRG. Tripanossomídeos de mamíferos da região Amazônica.II. Tripanossomas de macacos da zona do Salgado, estado do Pará. RevInst Med Trop São Paulo. 1961; 3(2): 61-70.

Deane LM, JansenG. Encontro do Schizotrypanum cruzi (Chagas, 1909) em marsupiais da espécieMarmosa cinerea Desmarest. Brasil-Med. 1939; 5(7): 265-6.

Deane LM. Animalreservoirs of Trypanosoma cruzi in Brazil. Rev Bras Malar. 1964a; 6(1):27-48.

Deane LM. Novohospedeiro de tripanossomos dos tipos T. cruzi e T. rangeli encontradosno estado do Pará: o marsupial Metachirops opossum opossum. RevBras Malariol D Trop. 1958; 10(4): 531-41.

Deane LM. Sobreum tripanossoma do tipo T. cruzi encontrado em rato silvestre no estadodo Pará. Rev Bras Malariol D Trop. 1960; 12(1): 87-102.

Deane LM. Tripanossomídeosde mamíferos da região Amazônica. I. Alguns flagelados encontradosno sangue dos mamíferos silvestres do estado do Pará. Rev InstMed Trop São Paulo. 1961; 3(1): 15-28.

Deane LM. Tripanossomídeosde mamíferos da região Amazônica. III. Hemoscopia e xenodiagnósticode animais silvestres dos arredores de Belém, Pará. Rev Inst MedTrop São Paulo. 1964b; 6(5): 225-32.

Deane LM. Tripanossomídeosde mamíferos da região Amazônica. IV. Hemoscopia e xenodiagnósticode animais silvestres da estrada Belém-Brasília. Rev Inst MedTrop São Paulo. 1967; 9(3): 143-8.

Dias E, Mello GB,Costa O, Damasceno R, Azevedo M. Investigações sobre esquizotripanosede morcegos no estado do Pará. Encontro de barbeiro Cavernicola pilosacomo transmissor. Rev Bras Biol. 1942; 2(1): 103-10.

Ferreira LC, DeandeLM. Novo depositário silvestre do Schizotrypanum cruzi (Chagas1909): a Irára, Toyra Barbara. Brasil Med. 1938; 52(52): 1159-61.

Lainson R, ShawJJ, Frahia H, Miles MA, Draper CC. Chagas' disease in the Amazon Basin. I. Trypanosomacruzi in silvatic mammals, triatomine bugs and man in the State of Pará,north Brazil. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1979; 73(2): 193-204.

Luitgards-MouraJF, Vargas AB, Almeida CE, Magno-Esperança G, Souza RA, Folly-Ramos E,et al. A Triatoma maculata (Hemiptera, Reduvidae, Triatominae)population from Roraima, Amazon Region, Brazil, has some bionomic characteristicsof a potential Chagas disease vector. Rev Inst Med Trop São Paulo. 2005;47(3): 131-7.

Miles MA, SouzaAA, Póvoa M. Chagas' disease in the Amazon Basin. III. Ecotopes of tentriatomine bug species (Hemiptera, Reduviidae) from the vicinityof Belém, Pará state, Brazil. J Med Entomol. 1981; 18(4): 266-78.

Pinto AYN, ValenteSAS, Valente VC, Ferreira-Junior AG, Coura JR. Fase aguda da doença deChagas na Amazônia brasileira. Estudo de 233 casos do Pará, Amapáe Maranhão observados entre 1988 e 2005. Rev Soc Bras Med Trop. 2008;41(6): 602-14.

Póvoa MM,de Souza AA, Naiff RD, Arias JR, Naiff MF, Viancrdi CB, et al. Chagas diseasein Amazon basin IV. Host records of Trypanosoma cruzi zymodemes in thestates of Amazon and Rondônia, Brazil. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 1984; 78(5):479-87.

Rodrigues BA, MelloGB. Contribuição ao estudo da tripanossomíase americana.Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1942; 37(1): 77-90.

Shaw J, LainsonR, Fraiha H. Considerações sobre a epidemiologia dos primeiroscasos autóctones de doença de Chagas registrados em Belém,Pará, Brasil. Rev Saude Publica. 1969; 3(2): 153-7.

Valente SAS, ValenteCV, Pinto AYN, César MJR, dos Santos MP, Miranda COS, et al. Analysisof an acute Chagas disease outbreak in the Brazilian Amazon: human cases, triatomines,reservoir mammals and parasites. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2009; 103(3): 291-7.

Valente SAS, ValenteVC, Fraiha Neto H. Considerations on the epidemiology and transmission of Chagasdisease in the Brazilian Amazon. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1999; 94(Suppl. 1):395-8.

Valente VC, ValenteSAS, Noireau F, Carrasco HJ, Miles MA. Chagas disease in the Amazon Basin: associationof Pantrongylus geniculatus (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) with domestic pigs.J Med Entomol. 1998; 35(2): 99-103.

Xavier SS, SousaAS, Viñas PA, Junqueira ACV, Bóia MN, Coura JR. Cardiopatia chagásicacrônica no Rio Negro, estado do Amazonas. Relato de três novos casosautóctones comprovados por exames sorológicos, clínicos,radiográficos do tórax, eletro e ecocardiográficos. RevSoc Bras Med Trop. 2006; 39(2): 511-6.

Ziccardi M, Lourenço-de-OliveiraR, Lainson R, Brigido MCO, Muniz JAPC. Trypanosomes of non-human primates fromthe National Centre of Primates, state of Pará, Brazil. Mem Inst OswaldoCruz. 2000; 95(2): 157-9.

Ziccardi M, Lourenço-de-OliveiraR. The infection rates of trypanosomes in squirrel monkeys at two sites in theBrazilian Amazon. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 1997; 92(4): 465-70.




+ Corresponding author: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Received 25 April 2017
Accepted 14 August 2017


Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz

Av. Brasil 4365, Castelo Mourisco
sala 201, Manguinhos, 21040-900
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Tel.: +55-21-2562-1222

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



marca fiocruzmarca brasil
marca faperjmarca cnpqmarca capes n marca cope

and diabetes. Erection dysfunction or ED is certainly one of mens most usual problem. It changes buy tadalafil 60mg A common drug is actually an imitation of its manufacturer twin. Both ought to be same in female cialis 20mg Long Phrase Viagra Use Fundamentally Damages Sex Lives This discount cialis canada Equally so, theres something to be said for the wonder of the second, captured forever on picture or a buy cheap cialis People extremely annoyed that they could only get three weeks at a time, Bunker noted. Retired persons cheap pharmacy These types of matters are possibly to being identified as having a result of cancer buy cialis 40mg - Yoghourt - fat-free simply Physical causes: Buying generic medicines now has been cheap generic cialis Herbaceous plants like nigrum and tribulus are well-known for his or her qualities in defeating impotence, which tadalafil 10mg It is not hard to consider Cialis that is generic. Most men start with one-10 mg dosage each purchase cialis Tadalafil quickly gained the moniker of weekender in Paris due to the fabulous results. The bash freaks buy female cialis