Vibrio cholerae is a globally distributed water-borne pathogen that causes severe diarrheal disease and mortality, with current outbreaks as part of the seventh pandemic. Further understanding of the role of environmental factors in potential pathogen distribution and corresponding V. cholerae disease transmission over time and space is urgently needed to target surveillance of cholera and other climate and water-sensitive diseases. We used an ecological niche model (ENM) to identify environmental variables associated with V. cholerae presence in marine environments, to project a global model of V. cholerae distribution in ocean waters under current and future climate scenarios. We generated an ENM using published reports of V. cholerae in seawater and freely available remotely sensed imagery. Models indicated that factors associated with V. cholerae presence included chlorophyll-a, pH, and sea surface temperature (SST), with chlorophyll-a demonstrating the greatest explanatory power from variables selected for model calibration. We identified specific geographic areas for potential V. cholerae distribution. Coastal Bangladesh, where cholera is endemic, was found to be environmentally similar to coastal areas in Latin America. In a conservative climate change scenario, we observed a predicted increase in areas with environmental conditions suitable for V. cholerae. Findings highlight the potential for vulnerability maps to inform cholera surveillance, early warning systems, and disease prevention and control.
Keywords: Chlorophyll-a; Cholera; Climate change; Ecological niche modeling; NicheA; Vibrio cholerae.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.