Seroprevalence of rodent-borne viruses in Afro-descendent communities in Brazil
Keywords:Afro-descendent communities, Arenavirus, Hantavirus, Rodent-borne diseases, Zoonosis, Quilombolas
During the Brazilian slavery period, many African migrants were brought to the American continent. Historically, some of these migrants escaped from the Brazilian gold mines and farms to which they had been brought and settled in remote valleys and this was the main mode of resistance to the slavery system. These runaway-slave descendant communities are called quilombos, a group with distinct ethnic identity, specific behavioral habits, including geographic isolation and conservative practices. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of rodent-borne viruses in two Afro-descendent communities from Mato Grosso do Sul State, Midwestern Brazil. A total of 319 individuals from rural and urban quilombola communities were enrolled. Twelve (3.76%) had anti-rodent-borne virus IgG antibodies. Seven (2.19%) were anti-mammarenavirus reactive and nine (2.82%) had anti-orthohantavirus antibodies. The literature includes limited data on the health status of quilombola communities, but all the studies emphasize the disparity of attention of local healthcare personnel to these communities compared to the general population. The findings of this study highlight the vulnerability and the precarious health conditions of quilombola groups, especially those living in rural areas and thus, point to the need of preventive measures to improve access to healthcare for this ethnic group.