2021 journal article
Schistosome infection in Senegal is associated with different spatial extents of risk and ecological drivers for Schistosoma haematobium and S. mansoni
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 15(9), e0009712.
Schistosome parasites infect more than 200 million people annually, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where people may be co-infected with more than one species of the parasite. Infection risk for any single species is determined, in part, by the distribution of its obligate intermediate host snail. As the World Health Organization reprioritizes snail control to reduce the global burden of schistosomiasis, there is renewed importance in knowing when and where to target those efforts, which could vary by schistosome species. This study estimates factors associated with schistosomiasis risk in 16 villages located in the Senegal River Basin, a region hyperendemic for Schistosoma haematobium and S. mansoni. We first analyzed the spatial distributions of the two schistosomes' intermediate host snails (Bulinus spp. and Biomphalaria pfeifferi, respectively) at village water access sites. Then, we separately evaluated the relationships between human S. haematobium and S. mansoni infections and (i) the area of remotely-sensed snail habitat across spatial extents ranging from 1 to 120 m from shorelines, and (ii) water access site size and shape characteristics. We compared the influence of snail habitat across spatial extents because, while snail sampling is traditionally done near shorelines, we hypothesized that snails further from shore also contribute to infection risk. We found that, controlling for demographic variables, human risk for S. haematobium infection was positively correlated with snail habitat when snail habitat was measured over a much greater radius from shore (45 m to 120 m) than usual. S. haematobium risk was also associated with large, open water access sites. However, S. mansoni infection risk was associated with small, sheltered water access sites, and was not positively correlated with snail habitat at any spatial sampling radius. Our findings highlight the need to consider different ecological and environmental factors driving the transmission of each schistosome species in co-endemic landscapes.