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Biological control of the snail hosts of schistosomiasis in areas of low transmission: The example of the Caribbean area

by J. P. Pointier, J. Jourdane
Acta Tropica ()
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The biological control of schistosomiasis has already proven its efficiency in several habitats in the Caribbean area. Two main types of biological control agents, either trematode parasites or competitor snails have been studied and tested against the snail hosts of schistosomiasis in this region. The first one, Ribeiroia guadeloupensis, a trematode sterilizing Biomphalaria glabrata was successfully tested in a Guadeloupean pond housing a natural population of B. glabrata. The second agent involves several species of competitor snails belonging to the Ampullariidae (Pomacea glauca, Marisa cornuarietis) and Thiaridae (Tarebia granifera, Melanoides tuberculata) families. Ampullarid snails were tested with success in several West Indian islands such as Guadeloupe. Thiarid snails have also proven their efficiency but also their limits in several types of habitats in Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Lucia and Venezuela. Competitor snails have also proven to be useful in preventing the recolonization by the snail hosts after molluscicide treatments. The case of the rivers of the littoral central part of Venezuela is particularly relevant to this issue. The island of Martinique also constitutes a good example of the importance of competitor snails in a post- transmission phase of schistosomiasis control. This island is a well- developed country where schistosomiasis transmission was interrupted in the 1970s. However, the reactivation of some transmission sites was observed in the 1980s. The introduction of M. tuberculata into these sites resulted in the interruption of transmission and the near total disappearance of the snail hosts. Presently, the thiarid snails have colonized the whole Martinican hydrographic system and maintain dense populations preventing an eventual recolonization by the planorbid snails and thus are maintaining a sustainable control. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

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