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Revista da Sociedade Brasileira de Medicina Tropical

Print version ISSN 0037-8682

Rev. Soc. Bras. Med. Trop. vol.44 no.2 Uberaba Mar./Apr. 2011  Epub Mar 18, 2011

http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0037-86822011005000005 

Malacological survey of Biomphalaria snails in municipalities along the Estrada Real in the southeast of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

 

Pesquisa malacológica de Biomphalaria em municípios da Estrada Real, situados no sudeste do Estado de Minas Gerais

 

 

Sandra Helena Cerrato TibiriçáI; Adalberto MitterofheII; Milton Ferreira de CastroII; Adilson da Costa LimaII; Murilo GonçalvesII; Izabella de Oliveira PinheiroII; Corina da Costa FreitasIII; Ricardo José Paula de Souza e GuimarãesIV; Omar dos Santos CarvalhoIV; Elaine Soares CoimbraV

IDepartamento de Morfologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, MG
IICoordenadoria de Epidemiologia e Vigilância em Saúde, Gerência Regional de Saúde de Juiz de Fora, Secretaria Estadual de Saúde de Minas Gerais Juiz de Fora, MG
IIIDivisão de Processamento de Imagens, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, São José dos Campos, SP
IVLaboratório de Helmintologia e Malacologia Médica, Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Belo Horizonte, MG
VDepartamento de Parasitologia, Microbiologia e Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, MG

Address to

 

 


ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION: The increasing practice of ecotourism and rural tourism in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, highlights the importance of studies concerning the occurrence of potential intermediate hosts of Schistosoma mansoni. This study aimed to identify species of Biomphalaria snails in municipalities along the Estrada Real, an important Brazilian tourism project.
METHODS: The specimens were collected in different water collections of 36 municipalities along the Estrada Real in the southeast of the State of Minas Gerais. Biomphalaria species were characterized using both morphological and molecular approaches. The research was conducted between August 2005 and September 2009 and all the sites visited were georeferenced using GPS.
RESULTS: Six Biomphalaria species were found in 30 of the 36 municipalities studied: glabrata, tenagophila, straminea, peregrina, occidentalis and schrammi. The first three species of Biomphalaria, recognized as intermediate hosts of S. mansoni, were present in 33.3%, 47.2% and 8.3% of the municipalities studied, respectively. The mollusks were found in different types of water collections and no infection by S. mansoni was detected. The highest occurrence of Biomphalaria concentration was verified in the area covered by the Caminho Novo route (Diamantina/MG to Rio de Janeiro/RJ).
CONCLUSIONS: Considering the occurrence of schistosomiasis in the State of Minas Gerais and the socioeconomic repercussions involved in the Estrada Real Project, this work focuses on the vulnerability of water collections due to the presence of Biomphalaria mollusks and emphasizes the need for epidemiological surveillance and sanitary and educational measures integrated with the local community and tourism sectors.

Keywords: Biomphalaria. Schistosomiasis. Estrada Real. Tourism. Ecotourism. Spatial distribution.


RESUMO

INTRODUÇÃO: O aumento das práticas de ecoturismo e turismo rural, em Minas Gerais, Brasil, evidencia a importância de se realizarem estudos sobre a ocorrência de hospedeiros intermediários do Schistosoma mansoni, no estado. O presente trabalho objetivou a busca e identificação das espécies de caramujos Biomphalaria encontrados em municípios mineiros pertencentes à Estrada Real, um importante projeto de turismo brasileiro.
MÉTODOS: Os moluscos foram coletados em 36 municípios da Estrada Real, no sudeste de Minas Gerais. A pesquisa foi realizada de agosto de 2005 a setembro de 2009 e todos os locais visitados foram georreferenciados com o uso de GPS.
RESULTADOS: Dos 36 municípios estudados, 30 apresentaram a ocorrência de pelo menos uma entre as seis espécies de Biomphalaria: glabrata, tenagophila, straminea, peregrina, occidentalis e schrammi. As três primeiras espécies citadas, reconhecidas como hospedeiras intermediárias do S. mansoni, estavam presentes em 33,3%, 47,2% e 8,3% dos municípios estudados, respectivamente. Os moluscos foram encontrados em diferentes tipos de coleções hídricas e em nenhum deles foi detectada infecção pelo S. mansoni. Houve maior ocorrência de Biomphalaria na área referente ao Caminho Novo (Diamantina/MG ao Rio de Janeiro/RJ).
CONCLUSÕES: Considerando-se a ocorrência da esquistossomose, no Estado de Minas Gerais, e as repercussões socioeconômicas que envolvem o projeto Estrada Real, este trabalho aponta para a vulnerabilidade das coleções hídricas devido à presença de moluscos Biomphalaria e enfatiza a necessidade de vigilância epidemiológica e medidas educativas e sanitárias integradas com a comunidade local e setores de turismo.

Palavras-chaves: Biomphalaria. Esquistossomose. Estrada Real. Turismo. Ecoturismo. Distribuição espacial.


 

 

INTRODUCTION

Mollusks of the genus Biomphalaria infected with Schistosoma mansoni maintain the cycle of schistosomiasis in several Brazilian municipalities, despite recent improvements in the socioeconomic status of the population and education programs focusing on health, which were expected to reduce transmission of the disease. The relation between disease occurrence in human populations and the geographical presence of susceptible intermediate hosts is a well documented fact1. Poor rural communities continue to be major areas of schistosomiasis transmission1. With the phenomena of urbanization (migration to the outskirts of large cities), all aspects of the disease are reappearing, such as: neuroschistosomiasis, pulmonary hypertension, hepatosplenic schistosomiasis, acute episodes, glomerulonephritis and pyogenic liver abscesses1-13.

The State of Minas Gerais presents one of the highest prevalence rates for schistosomiasis in Brazil14,15. The presence of schistosomiasis in this state causes a number of concerns, not only for the healthcare sector, but also for economic sectors, such as tourism, which involve significant capital.

In the historical context of the economic development of State of Minas Gerais, the term Estrada Real refers to the routes taken by settlers from the time of the discovery of gold in Minas Gerais to the period of its exhaustion16,17. The Estrada Real was created by the Portuguese Crown in the 17th century with the intention of controlling the flow of wealth, in the form of gold and diamonds and goods, which passed between the State of Minas Gerais and the coastal city of Rio de Janeiro, the capital of the colony at the that time17. The association of tourist attractions, including colonial buildings, churches, museums, nature reserves, adventure sports, mineral springs and culinary attractions, led to the creation of the Estrada Real Project. The Estrada Real Project consists of 193 municipalities, 162 of which are in the State of Minas Gerais, nine in the State of Rio de Janeiro and 22 in the State of São Paulo17.

The State of Minas Gerais includes the majority of the municipalities of the Estrada Real Project with great potential for expanding ecotourism and rural tourism, because of the attraction represented by historical-cultural monuments, the diversity of the topography, fauna and flora and water bodies. Thus, mapping the geographical areas vulnerable to the transmission of schistosomiasis becomes a task not only of health surveillance, but also of encouraging productive sectors that drive the economy in this state.

In order to contribute to the generation of georeferenced epidemiological data and the control of schistosomiasis in the municipalities of the Estrada Real Project in southeastern Minas Gerais, this work reports a malacological survey designed to verify the occurrence of mollusks of the genus Biomphalaria and the possibility of infection by S. mansoni.

 

METHODS

Study area

The study municipalities are located in the southeast of the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, and belong to the Regional Healthcare Administration of Juiz de Fora (Gerência Regional de Saúde, GRS/JF). The state is administratively divided into 13 macroregions. Among these, the southeastern macroregion consists of eight microregions, of which the Juiz de Fora/Lima Duarte/Bom Jardim de Minas microregion is under the responsibility of the GRS/JF. This microregion is composed of 37 municipalities. Of these, 36 were included in the study. The core urban area of the city of Juiz de Fora was not included, because the results of a local malacological survey conducted prior to this study had already been published18.

Malacological survey

Mollusks of the Biomphalaria genus were collected from August 2005 to September 2009, by technicians of the GRS/JF. Catches were made in several areas of the municipalities in order to cover the largest possible area, with the aid of gloves, tongs and dip nets. In all 36 municipalities, the type and quantity of water collection sites surveyed were selected by the following criteria: reported local cases of human schistosomiasis, existence of water bodies (lotic and lentic) whose characteristics favored the occurrence of the Biomphalaria genus and the possibility of contact with human populations. Thus, based in these criteria, at least three water collections in each municipality were surveyed. The points were georeferenced using a Global Positioning System (GPS), Garmin Model II-12, and imported into a Geographic Information System (GIS) to permit visualization of their spatial distribution. Sites in which the presence of Biomphalaria was verified were photographed with a digital camera.

Mollusk identification and examination of Schistosoma mansoni infection

The captured snails were counted, transported in plastic containers and maintained in the laboratory until identification. Following collection, the snails were transported to the laboratory where they were measured and examined under artificial light. Some specimens from each sample were identified at the Parasitology Laboratory in the Federal University of Juiz de Fora and the Entomology Laboratory of the GRS/JF, Secretaria de Estado de Saúde de Minas Gerais (SES/MG), according to the protocol established by Paraense19,20. Some specimens were sent to the Laboratory of Helminthology and Malacology at the René Rachou Medical Research Center, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (CPqRR/FIOCRUZ), for confirmation of species by the technique of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)21.

 

RESULTS

Research on Biomphalaria was conducted in 36 municipalities, 19 of which form part of the Estrada Real Project, while the remainder are located within the coverage area (Table 1). As presented in Table 1, 30 municipalities were positive for snails of the genus Biomphalaria, while in six, the presence of these mollusks not observed. Six Biomphalaria species were identified: glabrata, tenagophila, straminea, peregrina, occidentalis and schrammi. B. tenagophila was the most prevalent species and was found in 17 municipalities, followed by B. peregrina, in 16 municipalities and by B. glabrata, in 12. A total of 3,772 specimens of mollusks were collected, all negative for cercariae of S. mansoni (Table 1).

 

 

Table 2 shows the water collections visited in the municipalities studied and the number of positive sites for Biomphalaria snails. The sites were classified according to the following definitions intentionally left in their categories as defined in Portuguese to preserve the distinctions between site types: stream, water flowing in a channel; dam, a barrier constructed to contain the flow of water; tank, a large artificial container used to hold water; irrigation ditch, a channel for water irrigation; bog, wet spongy ground containing clay; waterfall, a cascade of water; water tank, a container for supplying water under pressure; water trough, a container providing water for animals; canal, an artificial waterway; spring, water rising from the earth; well, a hole or shaft sunk into the earth to obtain water; and reservoir, a natural or artificial pond or lake used for storage and regulation of water. Among the various water collections, streams were the most positive sites for Biomphalaria species, with 35 locations, followed by dams. The greatest variety of species was found in the dams. Among the 12 water collections surveyed, 10 showed the presence of B. glabrata and/or B. tenagophila (Table 2).

 

 

Figure 1 shows the coverage area of the Estrada Real Project in Brazil and highlights the positive and negative areas for Biomphalaria snails. A higher concentration of Biomphalaria occurs in the eastern region of the map, in the area covered by the Caminho Novo (Diamantina/MG to Rio de Janeiro/RJ), than in the western region of the map, which is closer to the Caminho Velho (Diamantina/MG to Paraty/RJ). In the eastern region, between the rivers Pinho and Paraibuna, belonging to the Paraíba do Sul river basin, all the species of mollusks reported in this work were found. The western region, between the rivers Grande and Aiuruoca, belonging to the Rio Grande water basin, is the area with just one positive collection dot for B. peregrina. In the southern region, between the rivers Grande and Preto, belonging to the Rio Grande and to the Rio Paraíba do Sul water basins, respectively, there are various collection dots for B. peregrina, but only one positive dot for B. tenagophila (Figure 1).

 

DISCUSSION

Increased ecotourism and rural tourism in the State of Minas Gerais has highlighted the importance of studies regarding the occurrence of potential intermediate hosts of S. mansoni. This study revealed the presence of Biomphalaria snails in 30 municipalities, in the southeast region of the state, belonging to the Estrada Real Project or to its coverage area. This is a pioneering work, undertaken to investigate Biomphalaria snails in municipalities of the Estrada Real route with the use of geographic coordinates (GPS) for mollusk location.

In Brazil, there are 11 species and one subspecies of mollusks of the genus Biomphalaria, but only B. glabrata, B. tenagophila and B. straminea are recognized as intermediate hosts of S. mansoni. B. peregrina proved to be experimentally susceptible to S. mansoni, while B. occidentalis and B. schrammi proved to be refractory to infection22-26. B. tenagophila was present in 47.2% of the municipalities surveyed, B. glabrata in 33.3% and B. straminea in 8.3%. Despite the undeniable importance of B. glabrata in Brazil, it is interesting to observe that B. tenagophila is the main species transmitting schistosomiasis in the State of São Paulo. These data reveal the importance of surveillance and the need for a control program for schistosomiasis in such areas, since B. glabrata showed significant occurrence and is of great importance due to its extensive geographic distribution, high infection indices and effectiveness in the transmission of schistosomiasis27.

Among the 36 municipalities studied, the absence of Biomphalaria snails was verified in only six. However, it is important to highlight that the present study was conducted over four years, which means that seasonal cycles, such as temperature and rainfall, for example, may have affected the abundance of mollusk populations28,29.

This study revealed several water collections colonized by mollusks of the Biomphalaria genus, including streams, dams and waterfalls, which could serve for sporting practices or for the construction of pools, providing further sources of infection by schistosomiasis among tourists4,30.

The Estrada Real Project is based on the exploration of the touristic potential of the region, with the implementation of regional ecotourism and the preservation of the natural patrimony17. These goals also culminate, unintentionally, in maintaining the habitat of the intermediate hosts of S. mansoni, which may promote outbreaks and the spread of schistosomiasis in the region, since in the majority of these sites sanitation conditions are poor, representing contamination risks for water collections in cases of infected individuals.

Little information exists regarding the prevalence of schistosomiasis in the municipalities studied, because the region is generally considered to be of low endemicity18. The presence of Biomphalaria species was previously reported in the municipalities of Piau, Rio Novo and Juiz de Fora15,18,31, although considering their geographical location, only Juiz de Fora has been surveyed18. Models to estimate the prevalence of schistosomiasis have been perfomed in the State of Minas Gerais14,32-34 and in some Estrada Real municipalities16, but in both studies, due to lack of georeferenced information for Biomphalaria, only data concerning the prevalence of human schistosomiasis and Biomphalaria species in relation to the municipality were used. In this study, all the sites where the occurrence of Biomphalaria was verified were mapped using GPS. Knowing the exact location of the breeding/water collections of the intermediate host participant in the chain of transmission of schistosomiasis permits greater flexibility in structuring measures for disease control. Moreover, these data may favor the use of geostatistical techniques, generating predictive values for the occurrence of Biomphalaria at sites in the region with no information regarding the intermediate hosts34,35, which could contribute to the drafting of a map of Biomphalaria snails in the State of Minas Gerais.

Considering the occurrence of schistosomiasis in the State of Minas Gerais and the socioeconomic repercussions that involve the Estrada Real Project, this work focuses on the vulnerability of the local water collections due to the presence of Biomphalaria mollusks and emphasizes the need for epidemiological surveillance and sanitary and education measures integrated with the local community and tourism sectors.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors are grateful to the entire team of the Regional Healthcare Administration in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, (GRS/JF) and to Sandra C Drummond (State of Minas Gerais Health Administrative Office).

 

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

 

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

This work was partially supported by FAPEMIG.

 

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Address to:
Dra. Elaine Soares Coimbra
Deptº Parasitol Microbiol Imunol/ICB/UFJF
Campus Universitário, Bairro Martelos
36036-900 Juiz de Fora, MG, Brasil
Phone: 55 32 2102-3219; Fax: 55 32 2102-3214
e-mail: elaine.coimbra@ufjf.edu.br

Received in 10/09/2010
Accepted in 04/11/2010

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