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Spatial distribution of canine faeces in Buenos Aires suburbs: implications for public health

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Canine faecal contamination contributes to environmental degradation and increases the exposure of humans – mainly children – to helminth infections. We studied the magnitude and spatial distribution of faecal contamination on the pavements of two neighbourhoods representative of Buenos Aires suburbs. The pavements of a low-income neighbourhood (LIN) and a middle-income neighbourhood (MIN) were selected at random. Field maps including all substrates and objects observed on each pavement were drawn, viewed from above, on millimetre paper at 1:100 scale. Data were then loaded into a geographic information system (GIS) Arc View 3.1 with a digitiser board. The spatial distribution of faeces and its association with substrates or standing elements were analysed at three scales: substrate, pavement and neighbourhood.

Permeable substrate cover was higher in LIN (75%) than in MIN (35%). The faeces were not homogeneously distributed on the substrates. In both neighbourhoods, the substrates with >50 per cent grass cover showed a significantly higher proportion of faeces than those with <50 per cent grass cover, bare soil and tile. At pavement scale, the number of faeces on pavements was not related to either the number of trees, posts and domiciled dogs in the block, or with the number of faeces and percentage cover of each substrate. At patch scale, substrate patches with faeces were larger than those without faeces. Patches with faeces did not differ in shape between neighbourhoods and were more regularly shaped than patches without faeces.

The spatial distribution of faeces relative to each other was almost random, even when analysed in relation to trees or standing objects. Strategies for the sustainable control of this problem are suggested.

Keywords: Buenos Aires suburbs; GIS; dog fouling; pavements; public health; spatial distribution

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4762.2008.00865.x

Affiliations: 1: Unidad Ecología de Reservorios y Vectores de Parásitos, Fac. Cs. Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Email: dianaru@ege.fcen.uba.ar 2: CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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