Geographic shifts in Aedes aegypti habitat suitability in Ecuador using larval surveillance data and ecological niche modeling: implications of climate change for public health vector control

Authors: Catherine A Lippi*, University of Florida, Anna M Stewart-Ibarra, SUNY Upstate Medical University, ME Franklin Bajana Loor, Ministerio de Salud Pública, Guayaquil, Ecuador, Jose E Duenas Zambrano, Ministerio de Salud Pública, Guayaquil, Ecuador, Nelson A Epinoza Lopez, Ministerio de Salud Pública, Guayaquil, Ecuador , Jason K Blackburn, University of Florida, Sadie J Ryan, University of Florida
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, South America
Keywords: Aedes, Ecuador, Niche modeling, Medical Geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Tyler, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Arboviral disease transmission by Aedes mosquitoes poses a challenge to public health systems in Ecuador, where constraints on health services and resources necessitate spatially informed management decisions. Employing a dataset of larval occurrence records provided by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Health, we used ecological niche models (ENMs) to estimate the current distribution of Aedes aegypti in Ecuador, using mosquito presence as a proxy for disease transmission risk. ENMs built with the Genetic Algorithm for Rule-Set Production (GARP) and a suite of environmental variables were assessed for agreement and accuracy. The top model of mosquito presence was projected to the year 2050 under various combinations of greenhouse gas emissions scenarios and models of climate change. Under current conditions, mosquitoes were not predicted in areas of high elevation in Ecuador, such as the Andes mountain range, nor the eastern Amazon basin. All models projected to future climate change scenarios demonstrated potential shifts in mosquito distribution, wherein range contractions were seen throughout most of eastern Ecuador, and areas of transitional elevation became suitable for mosquito presence. Encroachment of Ae. aegypti into mountainous terrain was estimated to affect up to 4,215 km2 under the most extreme emissions scenario, which could put more than 12,000 people at risk. Distributional shifts into communities at higher elevations indicate an area of concern for public health agencies, as targeted interventions may be needed to protect vulnerable populations naïve to mosquito-borne diseases. Ultimately, these results serve as a tool for informing public health policy and vector control in Ecuador.

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