London, July 13 (ANI): A new study says that although dogs are the one of the main carriers of the Chagas disease parasite, they can also help health officials monitor the disease.
The parasite Trypanosoma cruzi is the triatomine insect, or "kissing bug," which sucks the blood of mammals - cats, dogs and humans.
"One of our most significant findings is the importance of dogs in both the spread of the disease, and the potential to help control it," says disease ecologist Uriel Kitron, chair of environmental studies at Emory University.
Dogs are 14 times more effective at spreading Chagas disease than humans.
"Dogs tend to lie on porches or other areas easily accessible to the bugs," says Kitron.
"And when a dog is malnourished and its immune system isn't great, they are even more at risk."
An alternative may be to identify dogs that are most at risk of remaining infectious for a long period of time.
These 'super spreaders' could be targeted with insecticide collars.
Research is also ongoing for a vaccine against T. cruzi in mongrel dogs.
The topic is included in a June 24 special supplement of Nature. (ANI)