Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
versão impressa ISSN 0074-0276
MORENO, Mariana Laura et al. Exploring the association between Trypanosoma cruzi infection in rural communities and environmental changes in the southern Gran Chaco. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz [online]. 2012, vol.107, n.2, pp. 231-237. ISSN 0074-0276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0074-02762012000200013.
The association between land use and land cover changes between 1979-2004 in a 2.26-million-hectare area south of the Gran Chaco region and Trypanosoma cruzi infection in rural communities was analysed. The extent of cultural land, open and closed forests and shrubland up to 3,000 m around rural communities in the north, northwest and west of the province of Córdoba was estimated using Landsat satellite imagery. The T. cruzi prevalence was estimated with a cross-sectional serological survey conducted in the rural communities. The land cover showed the same patterns in the 1979, 1999 and 2004 satellite imagery in both the northwest and west regions, with shrinking regions of cultured land and expanding closed forests away from the community. The closed forests and agricultural land coverage in the north region showed the same trend as in the northwest and west regions in 1979 but not in 1999 or 2004. In the latter two years, the coverage remote from the communities was either constant or changed in opposite ways from that of the northwest and west regions. The changes in closed forests and cultured vegetation alone did not have a significant, direct relationship with the occurrence of rural communities with at least one person infected by T. cruzi. This study suggests that the overall decrease in the prevalence of T. cruzi is a consequence of a combined effect of vector control activities and changes in land use and land cover.
Palavras-chave : Chagas disease; land cover changes; Gran Chaco.