Rural tourism as risk factor for the transmission of schistosomiasis in Minas Gerais, Brazil

Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2004;99(5 Suppl 1):105-8. doi: 10.1590/s0074-02762004000900019. Epub 2004 Oct 13.

Abstract

Recently, the booming rural tourism in endemic areas of the state of Minas Gerais was identified as a contributing factor in the dissemination of the infection with Schistosoma mansoni. This article presents data from six holiday resorts in a rural district approximately 100 km distant from Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil, where a possibly new and until now unperceived way of transmission was observed. The infection takes place in swimming pools and little ponds, which are offered to tourists and the local population for fishing and leisure activities. The health authorities of the district reported cases of schistosomiasis among the local population after visiting these sites. As individuals of the non-immune middle class parts of the society of big urban centers also frequent these resorts, infection of these persons cannot be excluded. A malacological survey revealed the presence of molluscs of the species Biomphalaria glabrata and Biomphalaria straminea at the resorts. The snails (B. glabrata) of one resort tested positive for S. mansoni. In order to resolve this complex problem a multidisciplinary approach including health education, sanitation measures, assistance to the local health services, and evolvement of the local political authorities, the local community, the tourism association, and the owners of the leisure resorts is necessary. This evidence emphasizes the urgent need for a participative strategic plan to develop the local tourism in an organized and well-administered way. Only so this important source of income for the region can be ensured on the long term without disseminating the disease and putting the health of the visitors at risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomphalaria / parasitology*
  • Brazil
  • Disease Vectors
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Schistosoma mansoni / isolation & purification*
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / epidemiology
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / transmission*
  • Swimming Pools*
  • Travel*