Climate Influence on Emerging Risk Areas for Rift Valley Fever Epidemics in Tanzania

Rift Valley Fever (RVF) is a climate-related arboviral infection of animals and humans. Climate is thought to represent a threat toward emerging risk areas for RVF epidemics globally. The objective of this study was to evaluate influence of climate on distribution of suitable breeding habitats for  complex, potential mosquito vector responsible for transmission and distribution of disease epidemics risk areas in Tanzania. We used ecological niche models to estimate potential distribution of disease risk areas based on vectors and disease co-occurrence data approach. Climatic variables for the current and future scenarios were used as model inputs. Changes in mosquito vectors’ habitat suitability in relation to disease risk areas were estimated. We used partial receiver operating characteristic and the area under the curves approach to evaluate model predictive performance and significance. Habitat suitability for  complex indicated broad-scale potential for change and shift in the distribution of the vectors and disease for both 2020 and 2050 climatic scenarios. Risk areas indicated more intensification in the areas surrounding Lake Victoria and northeastern part of the country through 2050 climate scenario. Models show higher probability of emerging risk areas spreading toward the western parts of Tanzania from northeastern areas and decrease in the southern part of the country. Results presented here identified sites for consideration to guide surveillance and control interventions to reduce risk of RVF disease epidemics in Tanzania. A collaborative approach is recommended to develop and adapt climate-related disease control and prevention strategies.

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