The transmission cycles of Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, include a wide variety of mammals and hematophagous triatomine insects. Infection with this blood parasite has been confirmed in many armadillo species; however, information on infection in Zaedyus pichiy, a small armadillo that inhabits areas endemic to Chagas disease, is scarce. Our objective was to determine the infection frequency and parasite load of T. cruzi in 49 wild Z. pichiy confiscated dead from poachers in Mendoza, Argentina, 2010–2017. We detected T. cruzi DNA in 32 of 49 armadillos (65%) using real-time PCR, confirming infection with T. cruzi in a high proportion of confiscated pichis. No differences were found related to sex, age, or ecoregion origin of the assessed pichis. Parasite loads ranged between <0.1 and 8.88 parasite equivalents/microgram cardiac tissue. Additional studies on the infection status of Z. pichiy are needed to determine their role in the maintenance of the sylvatic transmission cycle and the potential zoonotic risk from hunted pichis.

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