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Sierras Centrales

This region, comprising the central region of Argentina-Sierras de Cordoba, San Luis, and Santiago del Estero, has been inhabited since the year 6000 BC. Interestingly the region of Santiago del Estero continues to have one of the highest prevalences of Chagas disease in Argentina and is one of most triatomine-infested areas.

Sur del Peru

For the purposes of this chapter, we will highlight the Chilca culture (3800 BC) and Nasca culture (2500 BC). In Huanuco, Peru’s Eastern Sierra, buildings were found that confirm the domestication of “cui” (Cavia sp.), dating to 1200 BC.

In the Formative Period (1200 BC-100 AD), and continuing through the Regional Development Period (100-800 AD), the Wari Old Empire (800-1200 AD), and the Empire Tawantisuyo (1430-1532 AD), the human migration of these populations increased in northwest Argentina. The construction of large cities that still surprise us, agriculture, and the breeding of llamas and other mammals were all good environments for domiciliated populations of T. infestans.

The origin and dispersal of T. infestans in South America

Figure 2.4 The origin and dispersal of T. infestans in South America.

New settlements and the displacement of entire villages, as a result of wars of conquest, facilitated the dispersion of triatomines into new areas. The mechanism of T. infestans adaptation to human habitats was probably facilitated by the custom of pet storage near or even inside houses. This custom still persists in many parts of Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, where guinea pigs are bred in homes for human consumption.

These mechanisms of domiciliation helped T. infestans became one of the first insects to adapt to human habitats in South America, and it remains probably the most widespread and numerous. Although its settlement of Uruguay and Brazil occurred more recently (probably through Argentina), its dispersion increased, spreading northeast into Bahia (Brazil). T. infestans was one of the main vectors in the country (with Panstrongylus megistus), until a decade ago when efficient vector controls were established. Paraguay could be settled from the Provinces of Northwest Argentina and across the Gran Chaco (Fig. 2.4).

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