Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Linda M. Whiteford, Ph.D.


Medical anthropology, Health disparaties, Immigrant health, Global public health, Infectious disease


Over the past 15 years Monteverde, Costa Rica has undergone rapid economic, social, political, and environmental change due to a flourishing ecotourism economy. While the effects of ecotourism development in Monteverde are many, two important consequences have been: 1) the immigration of Nicaraguan nationals to the area seeking low-skilled wage labor; and 2) compromised water resources management due to pollution and rapid population growth. The objective of this research is to investigate and identify the inter-relationships between ecotourism development in Monteverde and its affect on infectious diseases outcomes within the context of immigration and water resources management. Specifically, this dissertation uses both anthropological and public health methods within a political ecology of health framework to compare prevalence rates of intestinal parasites between Nicaraguan immigrants and Costa Rican residents living in Monteverde. Results indicate that Nicaraguan immigrants suffer disproportionately from infections with intestinal parasites compared to Costa Rican residents. The results further indicate that community based water resources are not a significant source of infection. Instead, the prevalence of intestinal parasites is most likely the result of fecal-oral transmission at the household level and is related to indicators such as access to health care, underemployment, home ownership, and household sanitation infrastructure.