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Schistosomiasis transmission and environmental change: a spatio-temporal analysis in Porto de Galinhas, Pernambuco - Brazil

Elainne Christine de Souza Gomes1*, Onicio Batista Leal-Neto2, Jones Albuquerque3, Hernande Pereira da Silva4 and Constança Simões Barbosa2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Parasitology, Vitoria Academic Center, Federal University of Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

2 Schistosomiasis Laboratory and Reference Service, Department of Parasitology, Aggeu Magalhães Research Center, Fiocruz, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

3 Department of Statistics and Computing, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

4 Geosere - Laboratory of GIS and Remote Sensing, Department of Rural Tecnology, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

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International Journal of Health Geographics 2012, 11:51  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-11-51

Published: 20 November 2012



In Brazil, schistosomiasis mansoni infection is an endemic disease that mainly affects the country’s rural populations who carry out domestic and social activities in rivers and water accumulations that provide shelter for the snails of the disease. The process of rural migration to urban centers and the disorderly occupation of natural environments by these populations from endemic areas have favored expansion of schistosomiasis to locations that had been considered to be disease-free. Based on environmental changes that have occurred in consequent to an occupation and urbanization process in the locality of Porto de Galinhas, the present study sought to identify the relationship between those chances, measure by remote-sensing techniques, and establish a new endemic area for schistosomiasis on the coast of Pernambuco State - Brazil.


To gather prevalence data, two parasitological census surveys were conducted (2000 and 2010) using the Kato-Katz technique. Two malacological surveys were also conducted in the same years in order to define the density and infection rate of the intermediate host. Based on these data, spatial analyses were done, resulting in maps of the risk of disease transmission. To ascertain the environmental changes that have occurred at the locality, images from the QuickBird satellite were analyzed, thus resulting in land use maps.


Over this 10-year period, the foci of schistosomiasis became more concentrated in the Salinas district. This area was considered to be at the greatest risk of schistosomiasis transmission and had the highest prevalence rates over this period. The study illustrated that this was the area most affected by the environmental changes resulting from the disorderly urbanization process, which gave rise to unsanitary environments that favored the establishment and maintenance of foci of schistosomiasis transmission, thereby consolidating the process of expansion and endemization of this parasitosis.

Schistosomiasis; Remote sensing; Epidemiology; Spatial analysis