Despite large-scale reductions in Chagas disease prevalence across Central and South America, Trypanosoma cruzi infection remains a considerable public health problem in the Gran Chaco region where vector-borne transmission persists. In these communities, peridomestic animals are major blood-meal sources for triatomines, and household presence of infected dogs increases T. cruzi transmission risk for humans. To address the pressing need for field-friendly, complementary methods to reduce triatomine infestation and interrupt T. cruzi transmission, this study evaluated the systemic activity of three commercial, oral, single dose insecticides Fluralaner (Bravecto®), Afoxolaner (NexGard®) and Spinosad (Comfortis®) in canine feed-through assays against Triatoma infestans, the principal domestic vector species in the Southern Cone of South America.
Twelve healthy, outbred dogs were recruited from the Zoonosis Surveillance and Control Program in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and randomized to three treatment groups, each containing one control and three treated dogs. Following oral drug administration, colony-reared second and third stage T. infestans instars were offered to feed on dogs for 30 min at 2, 7, 21, 34 and 51 days post-treatment.
Eighty-five per cent (768/907) of T. infestans successfully blood-fed during bioassays, with significantly higher proportions of bugs becoming fully-engorged when exposed to Bravecto® treated dogs (P < 0.001) for reasons unknown. Exposure to Bravecto® or NexGard® induced 100% triatomine mortality in fully- or semi-engorged bugs within 5 days of feeding for the entire follow-up period. The lethality effect for Comfortis® was much lower (50-70%) and declined almost entirely after 51 days. Instead Comfortis® treatment resulted in substantial morbidity; of these, 30% fully recovered whereas 53% remained morbid after 120 h, the latter subsequently unable to feed 30 days later.
A single oral dose of Fluralaner or Afoxolaner was safe and well tolerated, producing complete triatomine mortality on treated dogs over 7.3 weeks. While both drugs were highly efficacious, more bugs exposed to Fluralaner took complete blood-meals, and experienced rapid knock-down. Coupled with its longer residual activity, Fluralaner represents an ideal insecticide for development into a complementary, operationally-feasible, community-level method of reducing triatomine infestation and potentially controlling T. cruzi transmission, in the Gran Chaco region.