Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1020-4989
SANMARTINO, Mariana and CROCCO, Liliana. Extent of knowledge of Chagas' disease and its risk factors in Argentine communities showing different epidemiologic trends. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2000, vol.7, n.3, pp. 173-178. ISSN 1020-4989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892000000300006.
Currently, Chagas' disease control consists mainly of chemical warfare against the insect vector. However, a number of risk factors, such as poor hygiene and clutter, can facilitate the persistence of triatomine breeding sites. Relying on the premise that communities at risk of Chagas have little knowledge about the disease, the authors defined the extent of knowledge that is considered optimal and determined how much is known, on average, by the inhabitants of two areas in Argentina showing different epidemiologic trends. Risk factors in both areas were identified. The optimal extent of knowledge was defined in accordance with 25 "basic concepts" surrounding the disease, and from these questionnaires were constructed for evaluating average knowledge about the disease. Results obtained showed that risk factors were linked primarily with the type of dwelling construction and with clutter, as well as with limited knowledge about the disease. There was little basic knowledge about Chagas, with an inability, for example, to identify the vector and describe the mode of transmission. Increasing people's knowledge about the disease would be an important step in the fight against Chagas and would give the inhabitants of endemic areas a better understanding of their situation as well as the chance to develop behaviors that would allow them to assume responsibility for their own welfare.