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)
JournalEcoHealth
Early online dateApr 1 2021
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - Apr 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Environmental Protection Agency of Guyana and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for granting us permission to conduct this research. We are grateful for the logistical support provided by Eustace Alexander, Duane Defreites, and Kayla Defreites. We thank Peter Larsen for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Funding was provided by the National Geographic Society, Veterinary Pioneers in Public Health Research Fund of the University of Minnesota Center for Animal Health and Food Safety, University of Minnesota Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment and the Life Sciences, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Student Travel Scholarship, University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Department of Veterinary Population Medicine, American Association of Physical Anthropologists, Primate Action Fund of Conservation International, International Primatological Society, and Grand Valley State University. We are particularly grateful to the Waiwai of Masakenari Village for permitting us to conduct this study and welcoming us into their lives.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, EcoHealth Alliance.

Keywords

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

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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