5 years ago

Geographic patterns and environmental factors associated with human yellow fever presence in the Americas

Maria Cristina Schneider, Patricia Najera Hamrick, Deise Galan Leonel, Sonia Uriona, Sylvain Aldighieri, Luz Maria Vilca, Gustavo Machado

by Patricia Najera Hamrick, Sylvain Aldighieri, Gustavo Machado, Deise Galan Leonel, Luz Maria Vilca, Sonia Uriona, Maria Cristina Schneider


In the Americas, yellow fever virus transmission is a latent threat due to the proximity between urban and wild environments. Although yellow fever has nearly vanished from North and Central America, there are still 13 countries in the Americas considered endemic by the World Health Organization. Human cases usually occur as a result of the exposure to sylvatic yellow fever in tropical forested environments; but urban outbreaks reported during the last decade demonstrate that the risk in this environment still exists. The objective of this study was to identify spatial patterns and the relationship between key geographic and environmental factors with the distribution of yellow fever human cases in the Americas.

Methodology/Principal findings

An ecological study was carried out to analyze yellow fever human cases reported to the Pan American Health Organization from 2000 to 2014, aggregated by second administrative level subdivisions (counties). Presence of yellow fever by county was used as the outcome variable and eight geo-environmental factors were used as independent variables. Spatial analysis was performed to identify and examine natural settings per county. Subsequently, a multivariable logistic regression model was built. During the study period, 1,164 cases were reported in eight out of the 13 endemic countries. Nearly 83.8% of these cases were concentrated in three countries: Peru (37.4%), Brazil (28.1%) and Colombia (18.4%); and distributed in 57 states/provinces, specifically in 286 counties (3.4% of total counties). Yellow fever presence was significantly associated with altitude, rain, diversity of non-human primate hosts and temperature. A positive spatial autocorrelation revealed a clustered geographic pattern in 138/286 yellow fever positive counties (48.3%).


A clustered geographic pattern of yellow fever was identified mostly along the Andes eastern foothills. This risk map could support health policies in endemic countries. Geo-environmental factors associated with presence of yellow fever could help predict and adjust the limits of other risk areas of epidemiological concern.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005897

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