Seroprevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi infection in French Guiana

A survey was carried out on 1487 individuals to assess the seroprevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi infection in French Guiana. The overall prevalence of T. cruzi specific IgG was 0.5%. In multivariate analysis, residence in areas where housing is favorable for the presence of triatomine bugs was the only factor associated with the presence of T. cruzi antibodies.
These results have implications for public health since blood donors are not routinely screened for T. cruzi infection in French Guiana.

Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) is caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, mainly transmitted to humans by blood-sucking triatomine bugs (Hemiptera, Triatominae) but also transmitted by blood transfusion from infected donors, and occasionally by transplacental mother-to-child transmission.

It is estimated that 16-18 million people are infected in Latin America (WHO 1991). However, relatively few cases have been reported from the Guyanas (Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana) (Luquetti & Schofield 2003).

In French Guiana, only 17 clinical cases of Chagas disease have been reported since 1939 (Floch & Tasque 1940, Beaudet et al. 1985, Esterre & Dedet 1987), includ-ing four cases of acute chagasic myocarditis diagnosed between 1994 and 1996 (Carme et al. 2001a).
A serological study conducted in 1983-1985, using an indirect immuno-fluorescence test, showed that only one of 301 individuals (0.3%) had antibodies to T. cruzi (Esterre & Dedet 1987).

We present here a cross-sectional study designed to assess the seroprevalence of T. cruzi infection in various areas of French Guiana.