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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


ORELLANA-HALKYER, NANCY  and  ARRIAZA-TORRES, BERNARDO. Chagas disease in prehistoric populations of northern Chile. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2010, vol.83, n.4, pp.531-541. ISSN 0716-078X.

Chagas diseases is produced by a parasite named Trypanosoma cruzi, that affects humans and other marsupial and placental mammals. Transmission routes are diverse, but the most important transmission is the vector route, which involves the triatomine insects, wild and domestic infected animáis, and humans. Here we review the data about oral transmission route and the evidences of the etiological agent (Trypanosoma cruzi) of Chagas disease in pre-Columbian American mummies, making a critical review of the infection in northern Chile. Moreover, we comment on the hypotheses suggested in relation to the most important vector of the infection in South América Triatoma infestans, its antiquity in the Arica coast, and the recent reports about other wild infected vectors in this geographic área. The data presented along this document suggests that Chagas disease was present long before the european conquest and the construction of adobe houses in América. We also discuss the data about the involvement of wild Chilean mammals in the cycle of T. cruzi and propose that the paleoparasitologic study of zooarchaeological remains must be done in the future in order to identify ancient mammalian reservoirs of T. cruzi.

Keywords : Chagas disease; northern Chile; triatomines; Trypanosoma cruzi; zooarchaeology.

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