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!
Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy