Zoonoses and gold mining: A cross-sectional study to assess yellow fever immunization, Q fever, leptospirosis and leishmaniasis among the population working on illegal mining camps in French Guiana

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2022 Aug 15;16(8):e0010326. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0010326. eCollection 2022 Aug.


Background: Most emerging pathogens are zoonoses and have a wildlife origin. Anthropization and disruption of ecosystems favor the crossing of inter-species barriers. We hypothesize that the marginalized population of undocumented goldminers in the Amazon is at risk of acquiring zoonoses.

Method: A multicentric cross-sectional study included consenting gold-mining adult workers in 2019. A clinical examination recorded dermatological signs of leishmaniosis and past history of yellow fever vaccination. Biological tests were performed for yellow fever, Q fever and leptospirosis serologies. Additional blood samples from a previous study in 2015 were also tested for leptospirosis.

Results: In 2019, 380 individuals were included in the study, along with 407 samples from the 2015 biological collection. The seroprevalence of leptospirosis was 31.0% [95%CI = 26.4-35.5] in 2015 and 28.1% [23.5-32.7] in 2019. The seroprevalence of Q fever was 2.9% [1.2-4.6]. The majority of participants reported being vaccinated against yellow fever (93.6%) and 97.9% had seroneutralizing antibodies. The prevalence of suspected active mucocutaneous leishmaniasis was 2.4% [0.8-3.9].

Discussion: These unique data shed new light on the transmission cycles of zoonoses still poorly understood in the region. They support the existence of a wild cycle of leptospirosis but not of Q fever. Leishmaniasis prevalence was high because of life conditions and tree felling. High yellow fever vaccine coverage was reassuring in this endemic area. In the era of global health, special attention must be paid to these vulnerable populations in direct contact with the tropical ecosystem and away from the health care system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ecosystem
  • French Guiana / epidemiology
  • Gold
  • Humans
  • Leishmaniasis*
  • Leptospirosis* / epidemiology
  • Mining
  • Q Fever* / epidemiology
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Vaccination
  • Yellow Fever* / epidemiology
  • Yellow Fever* / prevention & control
  • Zoonoses / epidemiology


  • Gold

Grants and funding

The Centre hospitalier de Cayenne as the sponsor of the project received funding from the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) via the Interregional Amazon Cooperation Program (IACP) 2014-2020 (N° Presage 3949), supplemented by funds from the French Guiana Regional Health Agency. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.