Improving spatial prediction of Schistosoma haematobium prevalence in southern Ghana through new remote sensors and local water access profiles
Kulinkina, Alexandra V.
Naumova, Elena N.
MetadataShow full item record
Citation (published version)Kulinkina AV, Walz Y, Koch M, Biritwum N-K, Utzinger J, Naumova EN (2018) Improving spatial prediction of Schistosoma haematobium prevalence in southern Ghana through new remote sensors and local water access profiles. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 12(6): e0006517. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006517
BACKGROUND: Schistosomiasis is a water-related neglected tropical disease. In many endemic low- and middle-income countries, insufficient surveillance and reporting lead to poor characterization of the demographic and geographic distribution of schistosomiasis cases. Hence, modeling is relied upon to predict areas of high transmission and to inform control strategies. We hypothesized that utilizing remotely sensed (RS) environmental data in combination with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) variables could improve on the current predictive modeling approaches. METHODOLOGY: Schistosoma haematobium prevalence data, collected from 73 rural Ghanaian schools, were used in a random forest model to investigate the predictive capacity of 15 environmental variables derived from RS data (Landsat 8, Sentinel-2, and Global Digital Elevation Model) with fine spatial resolution (10-30 m). Five methods of variable extraction were tested to determine the spatial linkage between school-based prevalence and the environmental conditions of potential transmission sites, including applying the models to known human water contact locations. Lastly, measures of local water access and groundwater quality were incorporated into RS-based models to assess the relative importance of environmental and WASH variables. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Predictive models based on environmental characterization of specific locations where people contact surface water bodies offered some improvement as compared to the traditional approach based on environmental characterization of locations where prevalence is measured. A water index (MNDWI) and topographic variables (elevation and slope) were important environmental risk factors, while overall, groundwater iron concentration predominated in the combined model that included WASH variables. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The study helps to understand localized drivers of schistosomiasis transmission. Specifically, unsatisfactory water quality in boreholes perpetuates reliance on surface water bodies, indirectly increasing schistosomiasis risk and resulting in rapid reinfection (up to 40% prevalence six months following preventive chemotherapy). Considering WASH-related risk factors in schistosomiasis prediction can help shift the focus of control strategies from treating symptoms to reducing exposure.
RightsCopyright: © 2018 Kulinkina et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.