Five raccoons trapped at Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland, were found to have trypanosomes in the blood which were morphologically indistinguishable from Trypanosoma cruzi on stained smears. The organism grew well in culture. It developed and reproduced in Triatoma protracta, T. infestans, T. phyllosoma, and Rhodnius prolixus. Experimental infections were produced in raccoons, opossums, mice, rats, and monkeys by inoculation of blood, culture, and triatome forms. Typical leishmaniform bodies were found in tissue sections of cardiac muscle fibers from naturally and experimentally infected animals. Cross agglutinations carried out with Iiving cultural forms and rabbit antisera demonstrated a close antigenic relationship between the raccoon trypanosome and T. cruzi (Brazil strain). On the basis of (1) morphology, (2) presence of leishmaniform tissue stages, (3) development in triatomes, (4) infectivity to a variety of mammals, (5) culture characteristics, and (6) cross reactions in serological tests, this parasite is considered conspecific with Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas, 1909), the causative agent of American human trypanosomiasis.
Additional publication details
The isolation and identification of Trypanosoma cruzi from raccoons in Maryland