This paper examines the distribution and infection of Biomphalaria glabrata with Schistosoma mansoni in all aquatic snail habitats in a rural area in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, in relation to physico/biotic and behavioral factors. Snail and environmental surveys were carried out semi-annually between July 2001 and November 2002 at 106 sites. Collected snails were examined in the laboratory for infection. B. glabrata densities were highest in overflow ponds, irrigation ponds, springs, canals and wells, and lowest in fishponds and water tanks. Snail densities were higher during the hot, rainy season except for streams and canals and were statistically associated with the presence of fish, pollution, and vegetation density. Tilapia fish and an unidentified Diptera larva were found to be predators of B. glabrata but ducks were not. Twenty-four of the 25 infected snails were collected in 2001(1.4% infection rate) and only one in 2002, after mass chemotherapy. The occurrence of B. glabrata in all 11 snail habitats both at and away from water contact sites studied indicates widespread risk of human infection in the study area. In spite of the strong association between B. glabrata and tilapia in fishponds we do not recommend its use in schistosomiasis control for ecological reasons and its relative inefficiency in streams and dams.
Biomphalaria glabrata; snail habitats; environmental factors; tilapia; cattle; Brazil