CHAGAS DISEASE RISK IN NATIONAL PARKS: EXPLORING EMPLOYEE KNOWLEDGE AND BEHAVIORS AND OPTIMAL TRAPPING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH-RISK AREAS
Chagas disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, is a neglected parasitic infection in the United States. In the Southwestern United States, National Park Service employees live in close contact with several species of sylvatic triatomine bugs, the vectors of T. cruzi. We sought to understand how National Park Service employees’ knowledge and attitudes impact their triatomine preventive behaviors. We detected high self-reported bite exposure in National Park Service housing, despite a moderate frequency of prevention behaviors, low knowledge of Chagas disease, and low concern. We found that increased Chagas disease anxiety was associated with increased personal agency to reduce the risk of Chagas disease. Additionally, we assessed human-Chagas disease risk in Big Bend National Park and optimal triatomine bug collection methods by comparing four different monitoring methods. Results indicated that simple blacklight traps were the most effective method for collecting triatomine bugs during peak bug activity in the month of June. We found three species of triatomine bugs at Big Bend National Park across six sites and several high-risk human-vector exposure sites.
Chagas disease; KAP survey; National Park Service; triatomine bugs
Harrington, Laura C.
Dombroskie, Jason J.
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis