Discovery of two ill horses and three dogs naturally infected with Trypanosoma evansi near an experimental station in the Eastern Plains of Colombia led to a search for reservoir hosts of the parasite. Infection was detected in 8/33 healthy capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), none of the remaining 14 horses, and none of 32 Zebu cattle (Bos indicus), 18 paca (Cuniculus paca) and 20 spiny rats (Proechimys sp.). Contrary to common opinion, the results indicated a carrier state in the capybara. Diagnosis was based on morphology, behaviour in albino rats, and pathogenicity and host range in domestic animals.
From the Pathology and Epidemiology Sections, Animal Health Program, CIAT, apartado aéreo 67-13, Cali, Colombia (S.A.).