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  • journal.pntd.0000914

    Rights statement: 2010 Wardrop et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Bayesian geostatistical analysis and prediction of Rhodesian human African trypanosomiasis

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  • Nicola A. Wardrop
  • Peter M. Atkinson
  • Peter W. Gething
  • Eric M. Fevre
  • Kim Picozzi
  • Abbas S. L. Kakembo
  • Susan C. Welburn
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Article numbere914
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>21/12/2010
<mark>Journal</mark>PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number12
Volume4
Number of pages10
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Background

The persistent spread of Rhodesian human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) in Uganda in recent years has increased concerns of a potential overlap with the Gambian form of the disease. Recent research has aimed to increase the evidence base for targeting control measures by focusing on the environmental and climatic factors that control the spatial distribution of the disease.

Objectives

One recent study used simple logistic regression methods to explore the relationship between prevalence of Rhodesian HAT and several social, environmental and climatic variables in two of the most recently affected districts of Uganda, and suggested the disease had spread into the study area due to the movement of infected, untreated livestock. Here we extend this study to account for spatial autocorrelation, incorporate uncertainty in input data and model parameters and undertake predictive mapping for risk of high HAT prevalence in future.

Materials and Methods

Using a spatial analysis in which a generalised linear geostatistical model is used in a Bayesian framework to account explicitly for spatial autocorrelation and incorporate uncertainty in input data and model parameters we are able to demonstrate a more rigorous analytical approach, potentially resulting in more accurate parameter and significance estimates and increased predictive accuracy, thereby allowing an assessment of the validity of the livestock movement hypothesis given more robust parameter estimation and appropriate assessment of covariate effects.

Results

Analysis strongly supports the theory that Rhodesian HAT was imported to the study area via the movement of untreated, infected livestock from endemic areas. The confounding effect of health care accessibility on the spatial distribution of Rhodesian HAT and the linkages between the disease's distribution and minimum land surface temperature have also been confirmed via the application of these methods.

Conclusions

Predictive mapping indicates an increased risk of high HAT prevalence in the future in areas surrounding livestock markets, demonstrating the importance of livestock trading for continuing disease spread. Adherence to government policy to treat livestock at the point of sale is essential to prevent the spread of sleeping sickness in Uganda.

Author Summary

The tsetse transmitted parasites, Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, cause the fatal disease human African trypanosomiasis (HAT); the clinical progression, as well as the preferred diagnostic and treatment methods differ between the two types. Currently, the two do not overlap, although recent spread of Rhodesian HAT in Uganda has raised concerns over a potential future overlap. A recent study using geo-referenced HAT case records suggested that the most recent spread of Rhodesian HAT may have been due to movements of infected, untreated livestock (the main reservoir of the parasite). Here, the initial analysis has been extended by explicitly accounting for spatial locations and their proximity to one another, providing improved accuracy. The results provide strengthened evidence of the significance of livestock movements for the continued spread of Rhodesian HAT within Uganda, despite the introduction of cattle treatment regulations which were implemented in an effort to curb the disease's spread. The application of predictive mapping indicates an increased risk of HAT in areas surrounding livestock markets, demonstrating the importance of livestock trading for continuing disease spread. This robust evidence can be used for the targeting of disease control efforts within Uganda to prevent further spread of Rhodesian HAT.

Bibliographic note

2010 Wardrop et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. M1 - 12