Knowledge, practice and perception of human-marsupial interactions in health promotion
Introduction: Approximately 60% of emerging pathogens originate from wild animals, with mammals being the main hosts. Among Didelphis, which are restricted to the Americas, the species Didelphis aurita and Didelphis albiventris are particularly widely distributed throughout Brazil, where they act as hosts for several pathogens transmissible to humans. The reduction of their natural habitat has resulted in the adaptation of these species to human environments. Animals hunting, due to food necessity or cultural habit, may increase pathogen exposure with a potential to zoonotic disease transmission.
Methodology: From November to December 2016, we administered semi-structured questionnaires in a rural community in northeastern Brazil to assess knowledge, practices and perceptions regarding human-didelphis interactions and possible exposure to zoonoses.
Results: There were 213 respondents. Based on photographs of D. albiventris and D. aurita, 91.2% and 78% respondents, respectively, identified the animal by the popular name “sariguê”, 61% (130/213) believed the animal could convey any disease, 4.7% stated they did not, and 34% did not know. Opossum meat consumption was reported by 20.2% (43/213), of which 58.1% admitted disease transmission possibility. Only 15.9% of respondents had a secondary or higher education level. The distribution of these frequencies is discussed according to the respondents educational level.
Conclusions: The results reveal the need to carry out health educational activities, including better community knowledge regarding the possible exposure to pathogens due to marsupial consumption.
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