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Open Access Transmission of Chagas Disease via Blood Transfusions in 2 Immunosuppressed Pigtailed Macaques (Macaca nemestrina)

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A 2.25-y-old male pigtailed macaque (Macaca nemestrina) was experimentally irradiated and received a bone marrow transplant. After transplantation and engraftment, the macaque had unexpected recurring pancytopenia and dependent edema of the prepuce, scrotum, and legs. The diagnostic work-up included a blood smear, which revealed a trypomastigote consistent with Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease (CD). We initially hypothesized that the macaque had acquired the infection when it lived in Georgia. However, because the animal had received multiple blood transfusions, all blood donors were screened for CD. One male pigtailed macaque blood donor, which was previously housed in Louisiana, was positive for T. cruzi antibodies via serology. Due to the low prevalence of infection in Georgia, the blood transfusion was hypothesized to be the source of T. cruzi infection. The transfusion was confirmed as the mechanism of transmission when screening of archived serum revealed seroconversion after blood transfusion from the seropositive blood donor. The macaque made a full clinical recovery, and further follow-up including thoracic radiography, echocardiography, and gross necropsy did not show any abnormalities associated with CD. Other animals that received blood transfusions from the positive blood donor were tested, and one additional pigtailed macaque on the same research protocol was positive for T. cruzi. Although CD has been reported to occur in many nonhuman primate species, especially pigtailed macaques, the transmission of CD via blood transfusion in nonhuman primates has not been reported previously.

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Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: 1: Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA. [email protected] 2: Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA 3: Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, USA 4: Washington National Primate Research Center, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA; Department of Comparative Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2014

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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