Exposure to Schistosoma mansoni infection in a rural area of Brazil. I: Water contact

Andrea Gazzinelli, Jeffrey Bethony, L. Alves Fraga, P. T. LoVerde, R. Correa-Oliveira, Helmut Kloos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The study of water contact patterns in rural Brazil presents unique challenges due to widely dispersed settlement patterns, the ubiquity of water contact sites, and the privatization of water resources. This study addresses these challenges by comparing the two most widely used methods of assessing water contact behaviour: direct observation and survey. The results of a 7-day direct observation of water contact were compared with water contact surveys administered 1 week after and then 1 year after the direct observation study. The direct observation study recorded a water contact rate higher than reported by other investigators (3.2 contacts per person per day); however, 75% of these contacts were for females and consisted mainly of domestic activities occurring around the household. A comparison of the frequency of water contact activities between the direct observation and the two surveys revealed several important points. First, no significant differences were found between methods for routine water contact activities (e.g. bathing), indicating that participants were able to accurately self-report some types of water contact activities. Second, significant differences were found in the recording of water contact activities that took place outside the observation area, indicating that direct observation may under-report water contact activities in areas where contact sites are dispersed widely. Third, significant differences between the direct observation and the survey method were more common for males than for females, indicating that the combination of widespread water contact sites and gender-specific division of labour may result in under-reporting of male contacts by direct observation methods. In short, despite the limitations in the recording of duration and body exposure, the survey method may more accurately record the frequency of water contact activities than direct observation methods in areas of widely dispersed water contact sites. Hence, surveys may be more suitable for the unique challenges of water contact in rural areas of Brazil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-135
Number of pages10
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Brazil
  • Schistosoma mansoni
  • Survey methods
  • Water contact behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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