Using Geographic Information Systems to Analyze the Distribution and Abundance of Aedes aegypti in Africa: The Potential Role of Human Travel in Determining the Intensity of Mosquito Infestation

Using Geographic Information Systems to Analyze the Distribution and Abundance of Aedes aegypti in Africa: The Potential Role of Human Travel in Determining the Intensity of Mosquito Infestation

Jess Joseph Wetherilt Behrens (Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, Jefferson City, MO, USA) and Chester G. Moore (College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 30
DOI: 10.4018/jagr.2013040102
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Increasing attention is being paid to the impact of global climate change on yellow fever and dengue outbreaks. While useful, these studies neglect the role that travel may play in the distribution of Aedes aegypti, the primary vector of both viruses. Even less attention has been paid to the role travel patterns play in affecting the ecology of this vector. To help refocus the debate and illustrate how geographic information systems (GIS) can assist analysis, a global study of Ae. aegypti was digitized. Subsequently, several basic and advanced analyses of the surveys located in Africa were undertaken. Publicly available road data for the continent were included, along with recently published LandScan population data. A novel method for examining correlations within the data at various distances was developed. These correlations were then substantiated using Monte Carlo simulation techniques and found to be significant at p<0.001.
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Along with other historically significant human infections, such as malaria and typhoid (Gubler et al., 2001; Okawa, 2003), dengue & yellow fever have been and continue to be a tremendous problem throughout much of the developing world (Aiken & Leigh, 1978; Frutaldo et al., 2000; Getis et al., 2003; Gubler et al., 2001; Harrington et al., 2005; Thonnon et al., 1998; Van Benthem et al., 2005). As earth’s climate changes due to global warming, the range of these two deadly diseases will most likely continue to expand. Their primary vector, Aedes aegypti, will most likely find a greater geographic range in most regions (Gubler et al., 2001; Julio et al., 2009; Kovats et al., 2001; Monath, 1994; Patz, 1998; Paupy et al., 2005; Shope, 1991; Van Benthem et al., 2005), although there will probably be some contraction in areas as well. In most climate change scenarios, increasing global temperatures and changes in patterns of precipitation will provide new, sustainable environments for populations of the vector (Easterling, 1997; Gubler et al., 2001; Hulme et al., 1998; Kovats et al., 2001; Patz, 1998; Shope, 1991; Van Benthem et al., 2005). Furthermore, climate models suggest that globally increasing temperatures are expected to make outbreaks of dengue virus more frequent and easier to sustain, especially in temperate regions (Patz, 1998). Such an increase in outbreak duration and geographic range is especially concerning given that dengue is already the most widespread vector borne virus. Taking action against these historically deadly infections requires efforts to substantially reduce or eliminate disease vectors throughout endemic regions. Such a task requires improved surveillance data and methodologies, along with a new commitment to cross-disciplinary study (Kovats et al., 2001; Moore, 2008). Furthermore, the increasing problem of insecticide resistance (da Costa-Ribeiro et al., 2007; Julio et al., 2009; Paupy et al., 2004) makes the need for these improved methods paramount.

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