Common beach sand contamination due to enteroparasites on the southern coast of Pernambuco State, Brazil

Contaminação de areia de praia por enteroparasitas na costa sudeste do Estado de Pernambuco, Brasil

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Common beach sand contamination due to enteroparasites on the southern coast of Pernambuco State, Brazil

Contaminação de areia de praia por enteroparasitas na costa sudeste do Estado de Pernambuco, Brasil

Pompéia Freire da Silva; Isabela Melo Diniz Cavalcanti; João Inácio Irmão; Francisca Janaina Soares Rocha

Departamento de Medicina Tropical, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil

Correspondence to

SUMMARY

Sand contamination due to parasites was evaluated on the beaches of Porto de Galinhas, Muro Alto and Maracaípe in southern Pernambuco State. Samples were analyzed using the spontaneous sedimentation and modified Rugai methods. The highest contamination occurred on Porto de Galinhas beach, from which 42% of the samples were contaminated with Ancylostoma larvae and 13% with Trichuris sp. eggs. From Muro Alto beach, 30% of the samples were contaminated with Ancylostoma larvae and 13% with Ascaris lumbricoides. No pathogenic parasites were detected on Maracaípe beach. We suggest that further studies on beach sand contamination due to parasites should be conducted.

Keywords: Sand. Beach; Enteroparasite.

RESUMO

Contaminação da areia por parasitas foi avaliada nas praias de Porto de Galinhas, Muro Alto e Maracaípe no sudeste do Estado de Pernambuco. As amostras foram analisadas usando a sedimentação espontânea e do método de Rugai modificado. A contaminação mais alta ocorreu na praia de Porto de Galinhas, na qual 42% das amostras estavam contaminadas com larvas de Ancylostoma e 13% com ovos de Trichuris sp. Na praia de Muro Alto, 30% das amostras estavam contaminadas com larvas de Ancylostoma e 13% com Ascaris lumbricoides. Não foram encontrados parasitas patogênicos na praia de Maracaípe. Sugerimos que outros estudos sobre contaminação por parasitas em areias de praias sejam realizados.

Intestinal parasites are among the pathogens most frequently found in humans, and they cause significant health problems. Endemic soil contamination in public places such as beaches, squares and gardens is an important public health issue because of the risk of zoonosis transmission3.

Only a few studies have mentioned beach sand contamination caused by parasites such as Ancylostoma sp., Toxocara sp., Ascaris sp. and Trichuris sp.1,5. It is important to control sand contamination due to parasites because people (particularly children) may become infected and develop bowel obstruction (A. lumbricoides), malnutrition (A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura) and iron deficiency anemia (hookworms).

Large number of tourists visit the beaches of northeastern Brazil, particularly in southern Pernambuco State. The beaches of Porto de Galinhas, Muro Alto and Maracaípe are the ones most frequently visited by tourists because they have corals, warm clear waters and cliffs. The purpose of this study was primarily to evaluate the possibility that these beaches might present sand contamination due to parasites.

Samples of fine dry beach sand were collected under low tide conditions when it was not raining, between September 2006 and March 2007. Twenty-four specimens were collected from Porto de Galinhas, Maracaípe and Muro Alto beaches, mostly from crowded areas. The samples came from three different depths: surface, 10 cm and 20 cm. The spontaneous sedimentation and modified Rugai methods were applied due to be easy and cheap methods for isolation and identification of eggs and larvae of parasites, respectively2.

Higher larval contamination was identified in Porto de Galinhas (38% of total samples) and Muro Alto (38%) beaches when compared to Maracaípe beach (13%) by Rugai method. This was probably because of the difficulty in accessing Maracaípe beach, which is more frequented by surfers, and the lack of dogs in the area.

The parasites detected, by Hoffman method, on Porto de Galinhas beach were Ancylostoma sp. larvae (42%) and Trichuris sp. eggs (13%), whereas in Muro Alto beach, the parasites were Ancylostoma sp. larvae (30%) and Ascaris lumbricoides (13%). On the other hand, Maracaípe presented sand contamination due to Entamoeba coli (13%). All the other samples were negative. The latter is a parasite unlikely to cause disease in humans. Its presence may indicate conditions appropriate for the proliferation of other pathogenic microorganisms4, although no parasites at all could be detected in the samples from Maracaípe beach.

Taken together, our data are compatible with data from other authors1,3. The findings point towards problems that exist in relation to these beaches, such as poor health infrastructure, free transit of animals and lack of sanitary education. Our intention is expand our study in this field and work together with local populations and municipal councils.

Received: 16 September 2008

Accepted: 12 May 2009

  • 1. CÁCERES, A.P.S.G.; GONÇALVES, F.A.; CAZORLA, I.M. & CARVALHO, S.M.S. - Contaminação do solo por helmintos de importância médica na Praia do Sul (Milionários), Ilhéus, BA. NewsLab, 67: 146-155, 2004.
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  • 3. CASTRO, J.M.; SANTOS, S.V. & MONTEIRO, N.A. - Contaminação de canteiros da orla marítima do Município de Praia Grande, São Paulo, por ovos de Ancylostoma e Toxocara em fezes de cães. Rev. Soc. bras. Med. trop., 38: 199-201, 2005.
  • 4. SAMPSON, R.W.; SWIATNICKI, S.A.; OSINGA, V.L. et al. - Effects of temperature and sand on E. coli survival in a northern lake water microcosm. J. Water Hlth, 4: 389-393, 2006.
  • 5. SANTOS, N.M.; SILVA, V.M.G.; THÉ, T.S.; SANTOS, A.B. & SOUZA, T.P. - Contaminação das praias por parasitos caninos de importância zoonótica na orla da parte alta da cidade de Salvador, BA. Rev. Cienc. méd. biol. (Salvador), 5: 40-47, 2006.

  • Correspondence to:
    Prof. Dra. Francisca Janaina Soares Rocha
    Departamento de Medicina tropical, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco
    Rua Prof. Moraes Correa Rego s/n, Cidade Universitária
    50670-420 Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil
    Tel.: +55.81.2126-8525, Fax: +55.81.2126-8528
    E-mail:

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    26 Aug 2009
  • Date of issue
    Aug 2009
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