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Loyola biology professor, Chagas researcher presents at American Society for Clinical Pathology meeting

November 9, 2007

At the American Society for Clinical Pathology meeting in New Orleans on October 18, Patricia Dorn, Ph.D., Loyola biology professor, presented a continuing medical education course updating clinical pathologists and members of the blood-banking community on Chagas disease. Chagas disease is caused by a parasite found in the feces of bugs commonly called cone-nosed bugs or kissing bugs.

In July 2006, Dorn, in collaboration with Dawn M. Wesson, Ph.D., Tulane University, and Loyola undergraduate student Leon Perniciaro, discovered, in a rural area of New Orleans, the first human case of insect-transmitted Chagas parasite in Louisiana and sixth ever in the United States.

Dornís presentation included information on her research into the first human case of insect-transmitted Chagas parasite in Louisiana. Dorn and Alyssa Ziman, M.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, discussed the growing concern over Chagas disease in the U.S. with the discovery of apparent bug bite cases and transmissions that occurred via blood transfusions prior to FDA approval of a blood screening test for Chagas.

Dorn has spent 14 years studying Chagas disease, mostly in Guatemala. She is continuing her work on the insects that carry the Chagas parasite in Central America and Mexico and working with researchers at the LSU Veterinary School on Chagas in dogs in Louisiana.

Dornís scholarly paper on her finding in Louisiana was published in the journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which is published by the Centers for Disease Control. Their latest findings were presented at the annual meeting of American Association of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia in November 2007. For a brief summary of Chagas disease and its natural transmission in the U.S., visit Dornís website, http://chn.loyno.edu/biology/bios/dorn-chagasresearch.html. For more information, please contact Patricia Dorn at dorn@loyno.edu or (504) 865-3672.

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