Emerg Infect Dis 2003 Dec;9(12):1558-62
Hospital Privado Centro Médico de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina.
Current diagnosis of chronic Chagas disease relies on serologic detection of specific immunoglobulin G against Trypanosoma cruzi. However, the presence of parasites detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in patients without positive conventional serologic testing has been observed. We determined the prevalence and clinical characteristics of persons with seronegative results and T. cruzi DNA detected by PCR in a population at high risk for chronic American trypanosomiasis. We studied a total of 194 persons from two different populations: 110 patients were recruited from an urban cardiology clinic, and 84 persons were citizens from a highly disease-endemic area. Eighty (41%) of persons had negative serologic findings; 12 (15%) had a positive PCR. Three patients with negative serologic findings and positive PCR results had clinical signs and symptoms that suggested Chagas cardiomyopathy. This finding challenges the current recommendations for Chagas disease diagnosis, therapy, and blood transfusion policies.