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Environmental suitability for Lutzomyia (Nyssomyia) whitmani (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae) and the occurrence of American cutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil

da Costa, Simone Miranda, Cordeiro, José Luís Passos, Rangel, Elizabeth Ferreira
Parasites & vectors 2018 v.11 no.1 pp. 155
Leishmania braziliensis, Leishmania shawi, Lutzomyia, anthropogenic activities, atmospheric precipitation, climate change, cutaneous leishmaniasis, environmental degradation, forests, habitats, humans, models, normalized difference vegetation index, public health, temperature, urbanization, vegetation cover, Brazil
BACKGROUND: Leishmaniasis represents an important public health problem in Brazil. The continuous process of urbanization and expansion of human activities in forest areas impacts natural habitats, modifying the ecology of some species of Leishmania, as well as its vectors and reservoirs and, consequently, changes the epidemiological pattern that contributes to the expansion of American cutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil. Here, we discuss Lutzomyia (Nyssomyia) whitmani, the main vector of ACL, transmitting two dermotropic Leishmania species including Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis and Leishmania (V.) shawi. METHODS: We used the maximum entropy niche modelling approach (MaxEnt) to evaluate the environmental suitability of L. (N.) whitmani and the transmission of ACL in Brazil, in addition to designing models for a future scenario of climate change. MaxEnt was used under the “auto-features” mode and the default settings, with 100-fold repetition (bootstrap). The logistic output was used with higher values in the habitat suitability map, representing more favourable conditions for the occurrence of L. (N.) whitmani and human cases of ACL. RESULTS: Two models were developed: the Lutzomyia (N.) whitmani model (LWM) and the American cutaneous leishmaniasis model (ACLM). LWM identified the species “preferential habitat” included regions with moderate annual precipitation (AP) between 1000–1600 mm, intermediate vegetation density (NDVI) values, mean temperature of the coldest quarter (MTCQ), between 15–21 °C, and annual mean temperature (AMT), between 19–24 °C. ACLM indicates that ACL is strongly associated with areas of intermediate density vegetation, areas with AP between 800–1200 mm, MTCQ above 16 °C and AMT below 23 °C. CONCLUSIONS: The models generated for L. (N.) whitmani and ACL indicated a satisfactory predictive capacity. Future projections of LWM indicate an expansion of climatic suitability for L. (N.) whitmani for the northern and southern regions of Brazil. Future projections of ACL indicate the ongoing process of disease expansion in the face of the predicted climatic changes and reinforce the broad geographical expanse of this disease in Brazil. The models were able to identify that a continuous process of environmental degradation favours the establishment of L. (N.) whitmani and the occurrence of ACL by a strong association of the vector(s) and ACL to areas of intermediate vegetation cover density.