The effects of settlement on the prevalence of infection in two Amerindian populations of the Brazilian Amazon

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1993. With Vernon E. Thatcher, The Effects of Settlement on the Prevalence of Ascaris Infection in Two Amerindian Populations of the Brazilian Amazon, Acta Amazonica 23(1)25-36.



Studies were made of the intestinal parasites of Amerindian populations of the Uaupes River basin of Brazil. Three groups were sampled: 1) Tukano fisher-agriculturalists who live in permanent riverine villages; 2) Maku hunter-horticulturalists who live in close contact with the Tukano fishing villages; and 3) Maku who inhabit the forest interior and have little contact with permanent settlements. Fecal samples were collected from 498 individuals of which 220 were from the first group, 135 from the second and 143 from the third. The samples were analyzed by means of microflotation and centrifugal sedimentation. A total of 18 protozoan and helminth species were recorded based on the presence of cysts or eggs. These included five nematode species that could not be identified. The three common pathogenic nematodes were found to be prevalent" the hookworm, Necator americanus (96%); the whipworm, Trichuris trichiura (77%) and the large roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides (75%). The prevalence of Ascaris among the vollages was found to vary from 56-100%. Individuals living in, or associated with, permanent settlements has higher prevalence and intensity rates than those living in the nomadic hunter-gatherer way. This is shown to be directly related to fecal contamination of the environment in and around permanent settlements. The prevalence of Ascaris in a population can be used as an indicator of such environmental contamination.