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Landscape epidemiology in urban environments: The example of rodent-borne Trypanosoma in Niamey, Niger

Abstract : Trypanosomes are protozoan parasites found worldwide, infecting humans and animals. In the past decade, the number of reports on atypical human cases due to Trypanosoma lewisi or T. lewisi-like has increased urging to investigate the multiple factors driving the disease dynamics, particularly in cities where rodents and humans co-exist at high densities. In the present survey, we used a species distribution model, Maxent, to assess the spatial pattern of Trypanosoma-positive rodents in the city of Niamey. The explanatory variables were landscape metrics describing urban landscape composition and physiognomy computed from 8 land-cover classes. We computed the metrics around each data location using a set of circular buffers of increasing radii (20 m, 40 m, 60 m, 80 m and 100 m). For each spatial resolution, we determined the optimal combination of feature class and regularization multipliers by fitting Maxent with the full dataset. Since our dataset was small (114 occurrences) we expected an important uncertainty associated to data partitioning into calibration and evaluation datasets. We thus performed 350 independent model runs with a training dataset representing a random subset of 80% of the occurrences and the optimal Maxent parameters. Each model yielded a map of habitat suitability over Niamey, which was transformed into a binary map implementing a threshold maximizing the sensitivity and the specificity. The resulting binary maps were combined to display the proportion of models that indicated a good environmental suitability for Trypanosoma-positive rodents. Maxent performed better with landscape metrics derived from buffers of 80 m. Habitat suitability for Trypanosoma-positive rodents exhibited large patches linked to urban features such as patch richness and the proportion of landscape covered by concrete or tarred areas. Such inferences could be helpful in assessing areas at risk, setting of monitoring programs, public and medical staff awareness or even vaccination campaigns.
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Jean-Pierre Rossi, Ibrahima Kadaoure, Martin Godefroid, Gauthier Dobigny. Landscape epidemiology in urban environments: The example of rodent-borne Trypanosoma in Niamey, Niger. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, Elsevier, 2018, 63, pp.307-315. ⟨10.1016/j.meegid.2017.10.006⟩. ⟨hal-02621600⟩



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