Methods: U.S. Air Force basic training field instructors and students graduating from security forces training volunteered to have blood drawn and answer a questionnaire regarding traditional risk factors for Chagas disease. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and two serologic tests--enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for IgG and IgM and immunofluorescence assay (IFA) for IgG—were conducted on blood samples after validation of assays. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the prevalence and seroprevalence of T. cruzi and traditional risk factors thereof.
Results: A total of 67 individuals (19 instructors; 48 students) have been enrolled to date. Of the tests conducted (PCR [N=65]; ELISA [N=67]; IFA [N=67]), none has been positive for T. cruzi. The instructors spent a combined 178 months working in a triatomine-endemic field environment. The students spent a combined 192 weeks training in a field environment, including 240 nights sleeping in tents at one of the sites. The participants reported a combined 281 weeks living or traveling in Latin America and 7 suspicious insect bites that may be attributable to triatomines.
Conclusion: Initial evidence suggests that Chagas disease may not currently constitute a significant risk to military service members conducting field training exercise in south Texas. Enrollment will continue with funding available for 3,000 participants.
S. Valtier, None
C. Daniels, None
T. Cropper, None
C. Tully, None