Using museum collections to detect pathogens

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From: Emerging Infectious Diseases(Vol. 16, Issue 2)
Publisher: U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases
Document Type: Letter to the editor
Length: 1,147 words
Lexile Measure: 1390L

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To the Editor: Natural history museum collections have evolved in recent years to meet the challenges of current and future interdisciplinary scientific studies. Many natural history museums have built tissue collections and made digital information (e.g., photographs, publications, geographic coordinates) freely available on the Internet. These collections provide endless opportunities to conduct studies, including temporal and spatial surveys of emerging and reemerging pathogens (1). We report an example of a museum collection being useful in detecting Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiologic agent of Chagas disease, in the southern plains woodrat (Neotoma micropus) in southern Texas. This finding is of interest in the epidemiology of Chagas disease because the climatic characteristics and demographics of the region are similar to areas in Latin America where Chagas disease is an important zoonotic agent that infects [approximately equal to] 20 million persons (2).

Tissue samples from N. micropus woodrats archived in the Natural Science Research Laboratory at the Museum of Texas Tech University were evaluated for T. cruzi DNA by PCR methods. All samples were originally collected during March 2001-June 2003 from the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area in southern Texas (28[degrees]18'N, 99[degrees]24'W), 86 km west of the Mexico-US border; some samples had been used previously in other research projects (3). Individual rodents were captured with live traps (n = 13) or by excavating middens in which all the nest occupants were collected by hand (n = 146). Animals were later euthanized and tissue samples (heart, kidney, liver, lung, muscle, spleen) were obtained. Tissues were immediately frozen in liquid nitrogen and permanently stored in ultralow-temperature freezers. We extracted 1 DNA sample from each animal's liver for use in this survey. DNA amplification was performed by using primers specific to T. cruzi (TCZ1...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A221918682