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Prevalence of antibody to Trypanosoma cruzi in Hispanic-surnamed patients seen at Parkland Health & Hospital System, Dallas, Texas

Roberto Arena1, Christine E Mathews1, Anne Y Kim2, Tim E Lenz2 and Paul M Southern1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, USA

2 Department of Pathology, Parkland Hospital & Health System, Dallas, Texas, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:132  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-132

Published: 29 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Chagas disease constitutes an important public health threat in terms of morbidity and mortality in the areas in the United States where immigrant populations from Latin America are conspicuous. We conducted a survey to assess the prevalence of anti-T. cruzi antibody in Hispanic-surnamed patients seen at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

Findings

Five hundred serum specimens from Hispanic-surnamed patients were tested by a preliminary ELISA method. On a subset of 50 sera confirmatory testing was also performed using an alternative ELISA, indirect immunofluorescence, and TESA immunoblot. For 274 of 500 Hispanic-surnamed patients, we were able to ascertain immigration status upon medical chart review. Of the 274 sera analyzed, one sample tested as positive for anti-T. cruzi antibody by the preliminary ELISA, and by the three confirmatory methods.

Conclusions

The goal of this study is to increase the awareness of T. cruzi infection and Chagas disease in areas where the Latin American immigrant communities are growing. Our study highlights the importance of testing for Chagas disease in the populations most at risk, and the need for current data on the actual seroprevalence in areas where such immigrant populations are conspicuous. Larger-scale epidemiologic surveys on Chagas disease in the immigrant communities from Latin America are warranted.