Domestic poultry-raising practices in a Peruvian shantytown: Implications for control of Campylobacter jejuni-associated diarrhea

Steven A. Harvey, Peter J. Winch, Elli Leontsini, Cecilia Torres Gayoso, Sonia López Romero, Robert H. Gilman, Richard A. Oberhelman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Raising poultry at home is common in many periurban communities in low-income countries. Studies demonstrate that free-range domestic poultry increase children's risk of infection with diarrhea-causing organisms such as Campylobacter jejuni. Corralling might reduce risk, but research on the socioeconomic acceptability of corralling is lacking. To explore this issue, we studied local knowledge and practices related to poultry-raising in a Peruvian shantytown. Our objectives were to understand: (1) motives for raising domestic poultry; (2) economic and cultural factors that affect the feasibility of corralling; and (3) local perceptions about the relationship between domestic poultry and disease. During 1999-2000, we met with community health volunteers and conducted ethnographic and structured interviews with residents about poultry-raising practices. We then enrolled 12 families in a 2-month trial of corral use during which field workers made biweekly surveillance visits to each family. Most participants reported that they raise birds because home-grown poultry and eggs taste better and are more nutritious and because they enjoy living around animals. Some want to teach their children about raising animals. To prevent theft, many residents shut their birds in provisional enclosures at night, but most stated that birds are healthier, happier, and produce better meat and eggs when let loose by day. Many view bird feces in the house and yard as dirty, but few see a connection to illness. Residents consider chicks and ducklings more innocuous than adult birds and are more likely to allow them inside the house and permit children to play with them. After extensive orientation and technical assistance, participants were willing to corral birds more often. But due to perceived disadvantages, many kept birds penned only intermittently. Additional food and water costs were a significant obstacle for some. Adequate space, bird care and corral hygiene would also need to be addressed to make this intervention viable. Developing a secure, acceptable and affordable corral remains a challenge in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-54
Number of pages14
JournalActa Tropica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1 2003


  • Anthropological methods
  • Campylobacter jejuni
  • Diarrhea
  • Hygiene behavior
  • Peru
  • Poultry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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