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Predicting Geographic Variation in Cutaneous Leishmaniasis, Colombia

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3201/eid1004.030241
  • Research
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Approximately 6,000 cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis are reported annually in Colombia, a greater than twofold increase since the 1980s. Such reports certainly underestimate true incidence, and their geographic distribution is likely biased by local health service effectiveness. We investigated how well freely available environmental data explain the distribution of cases among 1,079 municipalities. For each municipality, a unique predictive logistic regression model was derived from the association among remaining municipalities between elevation, land cover (preclassified maps derived from satellite images), or both, and the odds of at least one case being reported. Land cover had greater predictive power than elevation; using both datasets improved accuracy. Fitting separate models to different ecologic zones, reflecting transmission cycle diversity, enhanced the accuracy of predictions. We derived measures that can be directly related to disease control decisions and show how results can vary, depending on the threshold selected for predicting a disease-positive municipality. The results identify areas where disease is most likely to be underreported.

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