Nature-culture interactions: understanding the prevalence of malaria in the northern Ecuadorian Amazon Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Polo, Patricia E.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
  • Malaria is an endemic disease in Ecuador with epidemic episodes. About 60% of Ecuadorians are at risk of becoming infected with the malaria parasite (falciparum and vivax). The country faces all the malaria impacts present elsewhere, including physical and mental incapacities of infected people, economic loss at the individual and country level, mortality, and resistance of vectors and parasites to insecticides and drugs. This study analyzes how the prevalence of malaria is related to colonos' (peasants) cultural practices and to land use/land cover change in the agricultural frontier of the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon, where malaria is endemic. The effects of socio-economic, demographic, and land use/land cover factors on the presence of malaria in households were studied at the farm and household level, through a binomial logistic regression model. Landscape dynamics and their impact on malaria were studied at the provincial level using Remote Sensing imagery, GIS coverages, and pattern metrics analysis. Results indicate the Ecuadorian Amazon is subject to frontier malaria, with a high incidence of malaria in the first 6-8 years of settlement, when the rate of forest clearing is greatest, and declining incidence after this period. The decline is believed to be due to geographic factors, such as the retreat of forest edges from colonos' dwelling units and the consequent decline in contact with the forest. Nevertheless, malaria remains prevalent. In sum, the fragmentation of the landscape has influenced the spatial trajectory of this disease, while colonos behavior has emerged as a primary factor in determining their likelihood of receiving anopheles mosquito bites.
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  • In Copyright
  • Walsh, Stephen J.
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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