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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

On-line version ISSN 1680-5348Print version ISSN 1020-4989


XIMENES, Ricardo Arraes de Alencar; SOUTHGATE, Brian; SMITH, Peter G.  and  GUIMARAES NETO, Leonardo. Social environment, behavior, and schistosomiasis in an urban population in the Northeast of Brazil. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2001, vol.9, n.1, pp.13-22. ISSN 1680-5348.

The objective of our study was to gain greater insight into the pattern of water contact in relation to schistosomiasis among residents of São Lourenço da Mata, a town in Pernambuco, a state in the Northeast of Brazil. We had two primary objectives: 1) to identify water contact activities that were more likely to produce infection and 2) to examine the socioeconomic factors behind water contact activities. Using a sample of persons 10-25 years old, we carried out a population-based case-control study to investigate the first objective, and a cross-sectional study for the second objective. We found that leisure water contact with flowing water (stream or river) was significantly associated with schistosomiasis.Variables showing a statistically significant association with leisure water contact were economic sector, income, and level of education of the head of the household; type of housing; possessions inside the house; type of domestic water supply; and method of excreta collection. We introduced these variables into a multivariate model to select the ones that were most closely associated with leisure water contact. We used a stepdown procedure, and two variables were retained in the final model: type of domestic water supply and type of housing. We concluded that a decrease in leisure water contact was associated with better socioeconomic conditions. Our results suggest that with the subjects we studied in São Lourenço da Mata there was a socioeconomic determination for leisure water contact. Our data highlight the importance of a broad and integrated approach in studying water contact activities and in implementing behavioral interventions for schistosomiasis prevention and control.

Keywords : Socioeconomic factors; schistosomiasis; water [parasitology].

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