The new roads connect Ecuadorian villages that previously used only rivers for transport. The study suggests the importance of considering human costs when assessing the environmental impacts of large development projects. With funding from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, the research team examined diarrheal infections and social networks in 21 villages being connected to a new road network built by the Ecuadorian government at the southern end of the Chocó rainforest, near the Pacific Ocean and the border with Columbia.
The roads bring new people to the villages, and allow the villagers to travel more easily between villages, and also back-and-forth to larger cities. But bacteria, viruses and parasites hitch rides with the newly-mobile people, adding new strains of old bugs to the local environment and increasing infection rates, according to Eisenberg. "If you keep reintroducing strains of a given pathogen, you're increasing the endemic population of pathogens," he said.
The study looked in particular at E. coli bacteria, rotavirus and the protozoan parasite Giardia, finding different infection rates and modes of transmission for each, but the same overall trends: proximity to the road meant higher infection rates. Remote villages were found to have infection rates up to eight times lower than those close to the new road.
"The increased diversity and potency of the microbe population apparently offsets the improved health care that also comes with new roads," he said. "When you're thinking about a road, you have to also think about these impacts that will take years to unfold."
The newly busy towns also seemed to experience a breakdown of traditional social structure and supports, leading to poorer sanitation, Eisenberg said. Borbón, the boom town at the hub of the new road network, has grown to more than 1,000 homes and has an ominous "fecal film" on its river.
"When the tide goes down and you look at the river bank, you can see a number of pipes leading from all sorts of buildings," Eisenberg said.
To gather these measures, the team's surveyors visited each village three times over the course of two years. During each 15-day visit, they stopped at every home daily, asking if anyone was sick and collecting stool samples to identify the organism causing the illness.
In addition to tracking the movement and identity of diarrheal diseases, they interviewed all the villagers about their social contacts and built a social network map as a way to measure social cohesion. Social cohesion affects the maintenance of infrastructure, which is relevant to disease transmission, Eisenberg said. "The higher social cohesion is, the cleaner the village," he said.
Numerous studies have linked infectious disease with roads and road construction, including HIV transmission in Uganda and malaria in Peru, but the effects of roads on diarrheal diseases, which are a leading cause of mortality among infants and children under age 5, are relatively unknown.
Karl Leif Bates | EurekAlert!
Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.
Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...
Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...
Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.
To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...
The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.
Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...
With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong
Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
07.12.2017 | Event News
12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences
12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering