Author(s): Aaron Morris, Rodolphe E Gozlan
Predominantly occurring in developing parts of the world, Buruli ulcer is a severely disabling mycobacterium infection which often leads to extensive necrosis of the skin. While the exact route of transmission remains uncertain, like many tropical diseases, associations with climate have been previously observed and could help identify the causative agent's ecological niche. In this paper, links between changes in rainfall and outbreaks of Buruli ulcer in French Guiana, an ultraperipheral European territory in the northeast of South America, were identified using a combination of statistical tests based on singular spectrum analysis, empirical mode decomposition and cross-wavelet coherence analysis. From this, it was possible to postulate for the first time that outbreaks of Buruli ulcer can be triggered by combinations of rainfall patterns occurring on a long (i.e., several years) and short (i.e., seasonal) temporal scale, in addition to stochastic events driven by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation that may disrupt or interact with these patterns. Long-term forecasting of rainfall trends further suggests the possibility of an upcoming outbreak of Buruli ulcer in French Guiana.