I want to give anyone who will listen a very serious warning about the spread of zoonotic diseases that I think the WHO/CDC is downplaying or ignoring completely. I have been doing veterinary surgery in Panama and Ecuador and recently got back from a clinic in the Galapagos islands. My colleagues and I have been noticing some very worrying trends in nearly every central and south American veterinary clinic we have been working at. I’ll try to quickly summarize our findings and then go into a little more detail. There has been a massive increase in the percentage and type of zoonotic diseases being found in the animals. Nearly 100% of the dogs we tested had antibodies for parvovirus and parainfluenza virus. Over 2/3 had antibodies for adenovirus and about a 1/4 distemper. These were wild type antibodies in unvaccinated dogs and in many cases we were finding that the families that owned these dogs had contracted these viruses. Many people think that a lot of these viruses can only infect their pets but this is not true. We also found over 25% of the dogs and cats infected with dirofilaria immitis, bartonella, and wolbachia pipiens. Bartonella was nearly 70% and almost every family member who lived with the infected animal had also contracted this. Over 2/3 of the cats had T. Gondi and toxoplasmosis was very prevalent in their human family members as well. A good % of the cats also had herpes virus.
One of the most disturbing trends was the % of animals we found testing positive for the T. Cruzi parasite that causes Chagas disease. Even more disturbing is that we believe this is being spread by some other vector other than the kissing bug which is currently considered its only vector. Our current theories are that certain arthropods such as ticks, bed bugs, fleas, or certain hexapods are spreading this. This is particularly bad because it is being spread between humans as well and can be fatal if untreated.
Currently the CDC says chagas disease can be trasmitted in these ways -contact with the feces of an infected triatomine bug -mother-to-baby (congenital), -contaminated blood products (transfusions), an organ transplanted from an infected donor, -laboratory accident, or contaminated food or drink (rare)
In our testing we have shown that T. Cruzi parasites can be transmitted between rodents through sex, unknown arthropods, and that food/drink contamination is certainly not rare. I can assure you that if it can be spread through sex between animals that it can be spread through human sex. If it can be spread from animal to animal through unknown arthropods, it can be spread to humans this way.
The crisis in Venezuela is going to make this much worse. Climate change is going to make this much worse. Globalization is making to this much worse when people all around the word are having south american crops in their stores I can assure you that these parasites/viruses/bacteria are going to become a big problem in Texas after the Harvey flood waters have spread everything around.
Some of these parasites cause lymphatic filariasis which the WHO states cannot be contracted in the United States. I can assure you that a parasite doesn’t give two fucks about what country it is in and isn’t magically prevented from crossing the border. The WHO and CDC would like to pretend that many of these things are very rare or that they can only be spread through certain vectors, but this is simply not true and people need to know they are at risk.