Author(s): Cross ER, Newcomb WW, Tucker CJ
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Abstract Sandfly fever and leishmaniasis were major causes of infectious disease morbidity among military personnel deployed to the Middle East during World War II. Recently, leishmaniasis has been reported in the United Nations Multinational Forces and Observers in the Sinai. Despite these indications of endemicity, no cases of sandfly fever and only 31 cases of leishmaniasis have been identified among U.S. veterans of the Persian Gulf War. The distribution in the Persian Gulf of the vector, Phlebotomus papatasi, is thought to be highly dependent on environmental conditions, especially temperature and relative humidity. A computer model was developed using the occurrence of P. papatasi as the dependent variable and weather data as the independent variables. The results of this model indicated that the greatest sand fly activity and thus the highest risk of sandfly fever and leishmania infections occurred during the spring/summer months before U.S. troops were deployed to the Persian Gulf. Because the weather model produced probability of occurrence information for locations of the weather stations only, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) levels from remotely sensed Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer satellites were determined for each weather station. From the results of the frequency of NDVI levels by probability of occurrence, the range of NDVI levels for presence of the vector was determined. The computer then identified all pixels within the NDVI range indicated and produced a computer-generated map of the probable distribution of P. papatasi. The resulting map expanded the analysis to areas where there were no weather stations and from which no information was reported in the literature, identifying these areas as having either a high or low probability of vector occurrence.
This article was published in Am J Trop Med Hyg
and referenced in Journal of Remote Sensing & GIS