Chagas disease in 2 geriatric rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) housed in the pacific northwest

Mary F. Dickerson, Nestor Gerardo Astorga, Nestor Rodrigo Astorga, Anne D. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Chagas disease (American trypanosomiasis) is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. It is endemic in Latin America but also is found in the southern United States, particularly Texas and along the Gulf Coast. Typical clinical manifestations of Chagas disease are not well-characterized in rhesus macaques, but conduction abnormalities, myocarditis, and encephalitis and megaesophagus have been described. Here we report 2 cases of Chagas disease in rhesus macaques housed in the northwestern United States. The first case involved a geriatric male macaque with cardiomegaly, diagnosed as dilated cardiomyopathy on ultrasonographic examination. Postmortem findings included myocarditis as well as ganglioneuritis in the esophagus, stomach, and colon. The second case affected a geriatric female macaque experimentally infected with SIV. She was euthanized for a protocol-related time point. Microscopic examination revealed chronic myocarditis with amastigotes present in the cardiomyocytes, ganglioneuritis, and opportunistic infections attributed to her immunocompromised status. Banked serum samples from both macaques had positive titers for T. cruzi. T. cruzi DNA was amplified by conventional PCR from multiple tissues from both animals. Review of their histories revealed that both animals had been obtained from facilities in South Texas more than 12 y earlier. Given the long period of clinical latency, Chagas disease may be more prevalent in rhesus macaques than typically has been reported. T. cruzi infection should be considered for animals with unexplained cardiac or gastrointestinal pathology and that originated from areas known to have a high risk for disease transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)323-328
Number of pages6
JournalComparative Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014


  • CMV, cytomegalovirus
  • DCM, dilated cardiomyopathy
  • NHP, nonhuman primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • veterinary(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Chagas disease in 2 geriatric rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) housed in the pacific northwest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this