Exploring spatial and temporal patterns of visceral leishmaniasis in endemic areas of Bangladesh
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Background: Visceral leishmaniasis is a considerable public health burden on the Indian subcontinent. The disease is highly endemic in the north-central part of Bangladesh, affecting the poorest and most marginalized communities. Despite the fact that visceral leishmaniasis (VL) results in mortality, severe morbidity, and socioeconomic stress in the region, the spatiotemporal dynamics of the disease have largely remained unexplored, especially in Bangladesh. Methods: Monthly VL cases between 2010 and 2014, obtained from subdistrict hospitals, were studied in this work. Both global and local spatial autocorrelation techniques were used to identify spatial heterogeneity of the disease. In addition, a spatial scan test was used to identify statistically significant space-time clusters in endemic locations of Bangladesh. Results: Global and local spatial autocorrelation indicated that the distribution of VL was spatially autocorrelated, exhibiting both contiguous and relocation-type of diffusion; however, the former was the main type of VL spread in the study area. The spatial scan test revealed that the disease had ten times higher incidence rate within the clusters than in non-cluster zones. Both tests identified clusters in the same geographic areas, despite the differences in their algorithm and cluster detection approach. Conclusion: The cluster maps, generated in this work, can be used by public health officials to prioritize areas for intervention. Additionally, initiatives to control VL can be handled more efficiently when areas of high risk of the disease are known. Because global environmental change is expected to shift the current distribution of vectors to new locations, the results of this work can help to identify potenti ally exposed populations so that adaptation strategies can be formulated.
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