Coarse-resolution Ecology of Etiological Agent, Vector, and Reservoirs of Zoonotic Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in Libya



Samy AM, Annajar BB, Dokhan MR, Boussaa S, Peterson AT.


PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2016 Feb 10;10(2):e0004381. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004381. 2016 Feb.


Cutaneous leishmaniasis ranks among the tropical diseases least known and most neglected in Libya. World Health Organization reports recognized associations of Phlebotomus papatasi, Psammomys obesus, and Meriones spp., with transmission of zoonotic cutaneous leishmaniasis (ZCL; caused by Leishmania major) across Libya. Here, we map risk of ZCL infection based on occurrence records of L. major, P. papatasi, and four potential animal reservoirs (Meriones libycus, Meriones shawi, Psammomys obesus, and Gerbillus gerbillus). Ecological niche models identified limited risk areas for ZCL across the northern coast of the country; most species associated with ZCL transmission were confined to this same region, but some had ranges extending to central Libya. All ENM predictions were significant based on partial ROC tests. As a further evaluation of L. major ENM predictions, we compared predictions with 98 additional independent records provided by the Libyan National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); all of these records fell inside the belt predicted as suitable for ZCL. We tested ecological niche similarity among vector, parasite, and reservoir species and could not reject any null hypotheses of niche similarity. Finally, we tested among possible combinations of vector and reservoir that could predict all recent human ZCL cases reported by NCDC; only three combinations could anticipate the distribution of human cases across the country.

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Link/DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004381