By Mirta Rodríguez P.
Sloths, opossums and rats are some of the mammals that are being used by a group of Panamanian scientists to study how the use of land by human activities such as deforestation and agriculture, influence the proliferation of transmissible parasitic diseases in the Republic from Panama, mainly Chagas disease and leishmaniasis.
The research is being carried out in the community of La Trinidad, in the Capira and Las Pavas Mines, in La Chorrera, where there is a high incidence of diseases and the appropriate forest area to carry out the studies. Within these secondary forests, for two years, scientists have placed traps in which they bait every morning to attract animals, reported the National Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT), an institution that finances the project to a cost of $ 80,872 as part of his responsibility.
He adds that the initiative includes an analysis of the implications of climate change, vector transmission mechanisms, habitats and ecology applied to health, the results of which will not only benefit Panama, but also the countries of Central and South America.
The purpose of the study is to contribute to the management of the environment of the Panama Canal region, rural and suburban communities, as well as provide information on the status of infectious diseases in the region to the Ministry of Health, authorities and the scientific community. the experts involved in the project stand out.
"We have found a trypanosome in spiny rats that was not described in Panama and the collections within the community have abysmal differences compared to collections from other forests," reported researcher Azael Saldaña, lead author of the project.
"We will give all these data to the Ministry of Health, because this is the scientific evidence they need to be able to establish programs for the control, diagnosis and prevention of diseases," said the scientist.
For her part, the engineer Milagro Mainieri, director of Research and Development (R&D) at SENACYT, assured that "this project is generating valuable basic information for plans and interventions in public health. Likewise, valuable material has been collected, which will be used for future associated research. '
While Fausto Martínez, farmer from La Trinidad de las Minas de Capira, expressed his satisfaction with the study that is being carried out in the region, since it will contribute to understanding how the appearance of parasitic diseases is related to the destruction of forests, since 'we have many cases of leishmaniasis in this sector and children are the most affected, even I was also affected. The community is supporting the project that the researchers have brought in because we want a solution to the problem to be found. '
Currently, the study is in its second stage and is part of the project ‘Impact of deforestation and other environmental changes on the ecology of Chagas disease and leishmaniasis on the banks of the Panama Canal’.
The results of the investigation (third stage) are expected to be ready in the middle of this year 2015, said Saldaña.