Reactivation of Chagas disease among heart transplant recipients in the United States, 2012-2016

Elizabeth B. Gray, Ricardo M. La Hoz, Jaime S. Green, Holenarasipur R. Vikram, Theresa Benedict, Hilda Rivera, Susan P. Montgomery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Background: Heart transplantation has been shown to be a safe and effective intervention for progressive cardiomyopathy from chronic Chagas disease. However, in the presence of the immunosuppression required for heart transplantation, the likelihood of Chagas disease reactivation is significant. Reactivation may cause myocarditis resulting in allograft dysfunction and the rapid onset of congestive heart failure. Reactivation rates have been well documented in Latin America; however, there is a paucity of data regarding the risk in non-endemic countries. Methods: We present our experience with 31 patients with chronic Chagas disease who underwent orthotopic heart transplantation in the United States from 2012 to 2016. Patients were monitored following a standard schedule. Results: Of the 31 patients, 19 (61%) developed evidence of reactivation. Among the 19 patients, a majority (95%) were identified by laboratory monitoring using polymerase chain reaction testing. One patient was identified after the onset of clinical symptoms of reactivation. All subjects with evidence of reactivation were alive at follow-up (median: 60 weeks). Conclusions: Transplant programs in the United States are encouraged to implement a monitoring program for heart transplant recipients with Chagas disease. Our experience using a preemptive approach of monitoring for Chagas disease reactivation was effective at identifying reactivation before symptoms developed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12996
JournalTransplant Infectious Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Chagas disease
  • Trypanosoma cruzi
  • heart transplant
  • reactivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Transplantation


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