Spatial heterogeneity of parasite co-infection: Determinants and geostatistical prediction at regional scales

Int J Parasitol. 2009 Apr;39(5):591-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2008.10.014. Epub 2008 Dec 3.


Multiple parasite infections are widespread in the developing world and understanding their geographical distribution is important for spatial targeting of differing intervention packages. We investigated the spatial epidemiology of mono- and co-infection with helminth parasites in East Africa and developed a geostatistical model to predict infection risk. The data used for the analysis were taken from standardised school surveys of Schistosoma mansoni and hookworm (Ancylostoma duodenale/Necator americanus) carried out between 1999 and 2005 in East Africa. Prevalence of mono- and co-infection was modelled using satellite-derived environmental and demographic variables as potential predictors. A Bayesian multi-nominal geostatistical model was developed for each infection category for producing maps of predicted co-infection risk. We show that heterogeneities in co-infection with S. mansoni and hookworm are influenced primarily by the distribution of S. mansoni, rather than the distribution of hookworm, and that temperature, elevation and distance to large water bodies are reliable predictors of the spatial large-scale distribution of co-infection. On the basis of these results, we developed a validated geostatistical model of the distribution of co-infection at a scale that is relevant for planning regional disease control efforts that simultaneously target multiple parasite species.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Developing Countries
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Hookworm Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Satellite Communications
  • Schistosomiasis mansoni / epidemiology*
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Topography, Medical
  • Uganda / epidemiology