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Rainfall and other meteorological factors as drivers of urban transmission of leptospirosis

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  • Marcelo Cunha
  • Federico Costa
  • Guilherme S. Ribeiro
  • Marilia S. Carvalho
  • Renato B. Reis
  • Nivison Nery Jr
  • Lauren Pischel
  • Edilane L. Gouveia
  • Andreia C. Santos
  • Adriano Queiroz
  • Elsio A. Wunder Jr.
  • Mitermayer G. Reis
  • Peter J Diggle
  • Albert I. Ko
  • Andrew S. Azman (Editor)
Article numbere0007507
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>11/04/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number4
Number of pages15
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: Leptospirosis is an important public health problem affecting vulnerable urban slum populations in developing country settings. However, the complex interaction of meteorological factors driving the temporal trends of leptospirosis remain incompletely understood. Methods and findings: From March 1996—March 2010, we investigated the association between the weekly incidence of leptospirosis and meteorological anomalies in the city of Salvador, Brazil by using a dynamic generalized linear model that accounted for time lags, overall trend, and seasonal variation. Our model showed an increase of leptospirosis cases associated with higher than expected rainfall, lower than expected temperature and higher than expected humidity. There was a lag of one-to-two weeks between weekly values for significant meteorological variables and leptospirosis incidence. Independent of the season, a weekly cumulative rainfall anomaly of 20 mm increased the risk of leptospirosis by 12% compared to a week following the expected seasonal pattern. Finally, over the 14-year study period, the annual incidence of leptospirosis decreased significantly by a factor of 2.7 (8.3 versus 3.0 per 100,000 people), independently of variations in climate. Conclusions: Strategies to control leptospirosis should focus on avoiding contact with contaminated sources of Leptospira as well as on increasing awareness in the population and health professionals within the short time window after low-level or extreme high-level rainfall events. Increased leptospirosis incidence was restricted to one-to-two weeks after those events suggesting that infectious Leptospira survival may be limited to short time intervals.