Master of Science (MS)


Geography and Anthropology

Document Type



This thesis will display how the use of a GIS is an important tool in understanding geographic patterns of Chagas' disease vector risk in a rural community in Guatemala. This is an important topic of investigation as Chagas' disease is the leading cause of heart failure in rural Latin America, and yet study has been limited due to a prioritization of national resources to urban diseases. Obviously this can have a severe impact on rural areas, especially if they already lack adequate health care provision. As a response to this deficiency, a collaboration between the Laboratory of Entomology and Applied Parasitology (LENAP) of the University of San Carlos in Guatemala and the World Health Organization Collaboration Center (WHOCC) for Remote Sensing and GIS for Public Health at Louisiana State University has been established. This thesis presents research from that collaboration. This thesis has relied on cartographic and analytical approaches made possible in the GIS environment to display the geographical distribution of Chagas' disease vectors, including infestation and re-infestation in the community. Although triatomines were mostly found inside the houses, they were also found in larger numbers in chicken coops outside the domicile. Four hotspot locations were identified by selecting the house locations that contained the highest 10 percent of the triatomines counts. Then a buffer analysis was incorporated to extract and manipulate epidemiological information at each hotspot. This project also incorporates anthropological risk factors such as the construction materials of choice for house construction, and local attitudes to domesticated animals, in the creation of risk patterns. Although construction materials have an effect on the presence of triatomines, there are other approaches such as the incorporation of community disease surveillance programs which appears to have an educational legacy effect. Also, clean houses seem to have less to no presence of Chagas' disease vectors in rural environment. Although the results of this thesis have implication for the community under investigation, the larger contribution is in showing how GIS flexibility can be used to gain insight from data not originally collected with spatial analysis as its primary focus.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Andrew Curtis