Effects of land-use and environmental factors on snail distribution and trematode infection in Ethiopia
Freshwater snails are intermediate hosts for several snail-borne diseases affecting humans and animals. Understanding the distribution of snail intermediate hosts and their infection status is very important to plan and implement effective disease prevention and control interventions. In this study, we determined the abundance, distribution, and trematode infection status of freshwater snails in two agro-ecological zones of Ethiopia. We sampled snails from 13 observation sites and examined them for trematode infections using a natural cercarial shedding method. A redundancy analysis (RDA) was used to examine the relationship between snail abundance and environmental variables. Overall, a total of 615 snails belonging to three species were identified. Lymnea natalensis and Bulinus globosus were the dominant snail species, representing 41% and 40% of the total collection, respectively. About one-third of the total snail population (33%) shed cercariae. The cercariae species recorded were Xiphidiocercaria, Brevifurcate apharyngeate distome (BAD), Echinostome, and Fasciola. Snail species were found in high abundance in aquatic habitats located in the agricultural landscape. Therefore, land-use planning and protection of aquatic habitats from uncontrolled human activities and pollution can be considered as important strategies to prevent and control the spread of snail-borne diseases in the region.