Background: Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is an important public health problem in Brazil and in several tropical regions of the world. In the Americas, Brazil is the country with the highest number of registered cases. In Brazil, the state of Minas Gerais has the highest number of cases in the southeastern region. In the present study, we used spatial analysis in the State of Minas Gerais to identify municipalities of priority during a nine-year period (2007-2015), which might be used to guide surveillance and control measures.
Methods: An ecological study with spatial analysis of autochthonous cases of CL was performed in the state of Minas Gerais between 2007 and 2015. We calculated incidence rates, used Empirical Bayesian smoothing for each municipality, and divided the analyses into three-year intervals. In order to analyze the existence of spatial autocorrelation, and to define priority areas, Moran's Global Index and Local Indicators of Spatial Association (LISA) were used.
Results: The mean incidence rate for the entire state was 6.1/100,000 inhabitants. For Minas Gerais, analysis of CL cases over time revealed a successive increase of indicated mesoregions with high priority municipalities. Eight of the designated mesoregions contained municipalities classified as high priority areas in any of the three evaluated trienniums, and four mesoregions had high priority municipalities throughout the entire investigation.
Conclusions: Within the southeastern region of Brazil, Minas Gerais State stands out, with highest CL incidence rates. Using spatial analysis, we identified an increasing numbers of cases in the municipalities classified as high priority areas in different mesoregions of the state. This information might be of value to direct surveillance and control measures against CL and to understand the dynamics of the expansion of CL in Minas Gerais. Similar approaches might be used to map CL in other regions throughout Brazil, or in any other country, where national notification and control programs exist.
Keywords: Brazil; Cutaneous leishmaniasis; Local indicators of spatial association; Minas Gerais; Moran’s global index; Spatial data analysis.