An Ethnographic Approach to Characterizing Potential Pathways of Zoonotic Disease Transmission from Wild Meat in Guyana

Marissa S. Milstein, Christopher A. Shaffer, Phillip Suse, Elisha Marawanaru, Thomas R. Gillespie, Karen A. Terio, Tiffany M. Wolf, Dominic A. Travis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The hunting, butchery, and consumption of wild meat is an important interface for zoonotic disease transmission. Despite this, few researchers have used ethnography to understand the sociocultural factors that may increase zoonotic disease transmission from hunting, particularly in Amazonia. Here, we use ethnographic methods consisting of structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews, and participant observation to address questions pertaining to wild meat consumption, pathways of zoonotic disease transmission, food security, and the cultural identity of indigenous Waiwai in the Konashen Community Owned Conservation Area, Guyana. Our data revealed that the majority of Waiwai eat wild meat two to three times/week and 60% of respondents reported butchery-related injuries. However, semi-structured and unstructured interviews, and participant observation data indicate that the Waiwai do not perceive most cuts from butchery as injuries, despite being a potential route of pathogen exposure. Additionally, participant observation revealed that hunting is integral to Waiwai identity and the Waiwai exhibit a cultural aversion to domestic meats. These findings provide valuable insights into the interplay of hunting and wild meat consumption and disease in Amazonia and demonstrate how an ethnographic approach provides the contextual data necessary for identifying potential pathways of zoonotic transmission from wild meat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)424-436
Number of pages13
JournalEcoHealth
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Bushmeat
  • Ethnography
  • Guyana
  • Hunting
  • Waiwai
  • Zoonosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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