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The Northern Bolivian Altiplano: a region highly endemic for human fascioliasis

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Abstract:

SummaryThe worldwide importance of human infection by Fasciola hepatica has been recognized in recent years. The endemic region between Lake Titicaca and the valley of La Paz, Bolivia, at 3800–4100 m altitude, presents the highest prevalences and intensities recorded. Large geographical studies involving Lymnaea truncatula snails (malacological, physico-chemical, and botanic studies of 59, 28 and 30 water bodies, respectively, inhabited by lymnaeids; environmental mean temperature studies covering a 40-year period), livestock (5491 cattle) and human coprological surveys (2723 subjects, 2521 of whom were school children) were conducted during 1991–97 to establish the boundaries and distributional characteristics of this endemic Northern Altiplano region. The endemic area covers part of the Los Andes, Ingavi, Omasuyos and Murillo provinces of the La Paz Department. The human endemic zone is stable, isolated and apparently fixed in its present outline, the boundaries being marked by geographical, climatic and soil-water chemical characteristics. The parasite distribution is irregular in the endemic area, the transmission foci being patchily distributed and linked to the presence of appropriate water bodies. Prevalences in school children are related to snail population distribution and extent. Altiplanic lymnaeids mainly inhabit permanent water bodies, which enables parasite transmission during the whole year. A confluence of several factors mitigates the negative effects of the high altitude.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-06-01

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