Trypanosoma cruzi infection diagnosed in dogs in nonendemic areas and results from a survey suggest a need for increased Chagas disease awareness in North America

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Gavic, Emily A.
Achen, Sarah E.
Fox, Phillip R.
Benjamin, Eduardo J.
Goodwin, Jonathan
Gunasekaran, Tamilselvam
Schober, Karsten E.
Tjostheim, Sonja S.
Vickers, John
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American Veterinary Medical Association
Ward, Jessica
Assistant Dean for Extramural Student Programs
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Veterinary Clinical Sciences
The mission of the Veterinary Clinical Sciences Department and the Veterinary Medical Center is to be strong academically, to provide outstanding services, and to conduct research in the multiple areas of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Our goals are to teach students in the multiple disciplines of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, to provide excellent veterinary services to clients, and to generate and disseminate new knowledge in the areas of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. Our objectives are to provide a curriculum in the various aspects of Veterinary Clinical Sciences which ensures students acquire the skills and knowledge to be successful in their chosen careers. We also strive to maintain a caseload of sufficient size and diversity which insures a broad clinical experience for students, residents, and faculty. In addition, we aim to provide clinical veterinary services of the highest standards to animal owners and to referring veterinarians. And finally, we strive to provide an environment and opportunities which foster and encourage the generation and dissemination of new knowledge in many of the disciplines of Veterinary Clinical Sciences.
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Objective: To describe the clinical presentation and outcome in dogs diagnosed with Trypanosoma cruzi infection in nonendemic areas and to survey veterinary cardiologists in North America for Chagas disease awareness. Animals: 12 client-owned dogs; 83 respondents from a veterinary cardiology listserv. Procedures: A retrospective, multicenter medical records review to identify dogs diagnosed with American trypanosomiasis between December 2010 and December 2020. An anonymous online survey was conducted August 9 to 22, 2022. Results: Diagnosis was made using indirect fluorescent antibody titer (n = 9), quantitative PCR assay (1), or postmortem histopathology (2). Time spent in Texas was < 1 year (n = 7) or 2 to 8 years (5). Time in nonendemic areas prior to diagnosis was < 1 year (n = 10) and > 3 years (2). Eleven had cardiac abnormalities. Of the 12 dogs, 5 had died unexpectedly (range, 1 to 108 days after diagnosis), 4 were still alive at last follow-up (range, 60 to 369 days after diagnosis), 2 were euthanized because of heart disease (1 and 98 days after diagnosis), and 1 was lost to follow-up. Survey results were obtained from 83 cardiologists in North America, of which the self-reported knowledge about Chagas disease was limited in 49% (41/83) and 69% (57/83) expressed interest in learning resources. Clinical Relevance: Results highlight the potential for encountering dogs with T cruzi infection in nonendemic areas and need for raising awareness about Chagas disease in North America.
This article is published as Gavic, Emily A., Sarah E. Achen, Phillip R. Fox, Eduardo J. Benjamin, Jonathan Goodwin, Tamilselvam Gunasekaran, Karsten E. Schober et al. "Trypanosoma cruzi infection diagnosed in dogs in nonendemic areas and results from a survey suggest a need for increased Chagas disease awareness in North America." Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2023): 1-8. DOI: 10.2460/javma.22.10.0445. Copyright 2023 The Authors. Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0). Posted with permission.