In Brazil, the colonization of human dwellings by triatomines occurs in areas with native vegetation of the caatinga or cerrado types. In areas of Atlantic forest such as in the Brazilian state of Espírito Santo, there are no species adapted to live in human habitations. The few autochthonous cases of Chagas disease encountered in Espírito Santo have been attributed to adult specimens of Triatoma vitticeps
that invade houses from forest remnants. In recent years, the entomology unit of the Espírito Santo State Health Secretariat has recorded nymphs infected with flagellates similar to Trypanosoma cruzi
in rural localities. Entomological surveys were carried out in the residences and outbuildings in which the insects were found, and serological examinations for Chagas disease performed on the inhabitants. Four colonies were found, all associated with nests of opossums ( Didelphis aurita
), 111 specimens of T. vitticeps
, and 159 eggs being collected. All the triatomines presented flagellates in their frass. Mice inoculated with the faeces presented trypomastigotes in the circulating blood and groups of amastigotes in the cardiac muscle fibres. Serological tests performed on the inhabitants were negative for T. cruzi
. Even with the intense devastation of the forest in Espírito Santo, there are no indications of change in the sylvatic habits of T. vitticeps
. Colonies of this insect associated with opossum nests would indicate an expansion of the sylvatic environment into the peridomicile.