Ecological factors related to the widespread distribution of sylvatic Rhodnius ecuadoriensis populations in southern Ecuador

Mario J. Grijalva, Victoria Suarez-Davalos, Anita G. Villacis, Sofia Ocaña-Mayorga, Olivier Dangles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background: Chagas disease transmission risk is a function of the presence of triatomines in domestic habitats. Rhodnius ecuadoriensis is one of the main vectors implicated in transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi in Ecuador. This triatomine species is present in domestic, peridomestic and sylvatic habitats in the country. To determine the distribution of sylvatic populations of R. ecuadoriensis and the factors related to this distribution, triatomine searches were conducted between 2005 and 2009 in southern Ecuador. Methods. Manual triatomine searches were conducted by skilled bug collectors in 23 communities. Sylvatic searched sites were selected by a) directed sampling, where microhabitats were selected by the searchers and b) random sampling, where sampling points where randomly generated. Domiciliary triatomine searches were conducted using the one man-hour method. Natural trypanosome infection was determined by microscopic examination and PCR. Generalized linear models were used to test the effect of environmental factors on the presence of sylvatic triatomines. Results: In total, 1,923 sylvatic individuals were collected representing a sampling effort of 751 man-hours. Collected sylvatic triatomines were associated with mammal and bird nests. The 1,219 sampled nests presented an infestation index of 11.9%, a crowding of 13 bugs per infested nest, and a colonization of 80% of the nests. Triatomine abundance was significantly higher in squirrel (Sciurus stramineus) nests located above five meters from ground level and close to the houses. In addition, 8.5% of the 820 examined houses in the same localities were infested with triatomines. There was a significant correlation between R. ecuadoriensis infestation rates found in sylvatic and synanthropic environments within communities (p = 0.012). Parasitological analysis revealed that 64.7% and 15.7% of the sylvatic bugs examined (n = 300) were infected with Trypanosoma cruzi and T. rangeli respectively, and 8% of the bugs presented mixed infections. Conclusions: The wide distribution of sylvatic R. ecuadoriensis populations may jeopardize the effectiveness of control campaigns conducted to eliminate domestic populations of this species. Also, the high T. cruzi infection rates found in sylvatic R. ecuadoriensis populations in southern Ecuador could constitute a risk for house re-infestation and persistent long-term Chagas disease transmission in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012


  • Chagas disease
  • Ecuador
  • Rhodnius ecuadoriensis
  • sylvatic triatomines


Dive into the research topics of 'Ecological factors related to the widespread distribution of sylvatic Rhodnius ecuadoriensis populations in southern Ecuador'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this