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J Parasitol. 1992 Jun;78(3):547-9.

Trypanosoma cruzi in wild raccoons and opossums in North Carolina.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 21709.


Trypanosoma cruzi was isolated from 1 of 12 (8.3%) opossums and 3 of 20 (15%) raccoons from the piedmont area of North Carolina. Although T. cruzi has been isolated previously from wild mammals in the southern United States, the present study is the first published report of naturally occurring T. cruzi infection of wild mammals in North Carolina. All 4 isolates were maintained successfully in axenic culture and in murine fibroblasts. In addition, intraperitoneal injection of 1 x 10(6) culture forms of 1 of the opossum isolates into C3H mice resulted in low but detectable parasitemias as early as day 6 of infection. These mice resolved parasitemia and survived infection. Intraperitoneal injection of 1 x 10(6) culture forms of a raccoon isolate resulted in the death of 3 out of 4 mice. Surprisingly, parasitemias were never detected in the peripheral blood of these mice. Infection of murine fibroblasts in vitro resulted in the presence of intracellular amastigote stages characteristic of T. cruzi.

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