A rather high prevalence of mansoni schistosomiasis has been observed in some localities of Bananal, State of São Paulo, during the past decade. The highest prevalence of schistosomiasis was found in the Palha District; it was thus considered adequate for an evaluation of public awareness of the risks involved in acquiring schistosomiasis, a likely outcome of certain behavior patterns. We interviewed 542 district-dwellers. The 5-to-39 age-group constituted 65.5% of the whole sample. Concerning the infection, 69.2% had hearsay information; 46.1% know the infection; 69.6% know how it is acquired; 31.5% know about the symptoms and 57.1% know what can be done to avoid infection; 17.7% declared to have acquired the infection at least once in their lifetime; 62.3% reported total or partial immersion in collections of water of Bananal, once or twice a week, 53.9% of these for bathing or fishing. Although most (91.7%) households have treated running water, are connected to the sewage network or have septic tanks, 9% of the people interviewed use to defecate on the field. It became clear that the educational messages aimed at this population had not been adequate, having failed to fulfil any expectations. The local people received only piecemeal and subjective information about their problem. The control of schistosomiasis requires an integrated practice, which includes the analysis of macro-determinant factors, such as basic sanitation, habitation, education and health care. In short, we require a multidisciplinary vision of the mechanisms of transmission of the infection, which depends upon adequate planning and well trained personnel, intent on their educational work, to attain satisfactory results
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