Background: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is a tick-borne infection caused by a virus (CCHFV) from the Bunyaviridae family. Domestic and wild vertebrates are asymptomatic reservoirs for the virus, putting animal handlers, slaughter-house workers and agricultural labourers at highest risk in endemic areas, with secondary transmission possible through contact with infected blood and other bodily fluids. Human infection is characterized by severe symptoms that often result in death. While it is known that CCHFV transmission is limited to Africa, Asia and Europe, definitive global extents and risk patterns within these limits have not been well described.
Methods: We used an exhaustive database of human CCHF occurrence records and a niche modeling framework to map the global distribution of risk for human CCHF occurrence.
Results: A greater proportion of shrub or grass land cover was the most important contributor to our model, which predicts highest levels of risk around the Black Sea, Turkey, and some parts of central Asia. Sub-Saharan Africa shows more focalized areas of risk throughout the Sahel and the Cape region.
Conclusions: These new risk maps provide a valuable starting point for understanding the zoonotic niche of CCHF, its extent and the risk it poses to humans.
Keywords: Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever; Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus; Ecological niche modeling; Infectious diseases; Tick-borne diseases; Vector-borne diseases.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.