skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on October 5, 2022

Title: Exposure, hazard, and vulnerability all contribute to Schistosoma haematobium re-infection in northern Senegal
Background Infectious disease risk is driven by three interrelated components: exposure, hazard, and vulnerability. For schistosomiasis, exposure occurs through contact with water, which is often tied to daily activities. Water contact, however, does not imply risk unless the environmental hazard of snails and parasites is also present in the water. By increasing reliance on hazardous activities and environments, socio-economic vulnerability can hinder reductions in exposure to a hazard. We aimed to quantify the contributions of exposure, hazard, and vulnerability to the presence and intensity of Schistosoma haematobium re-infection. Methodology/Principal findings In 13 villages along the Senegal River, we collected parasitological data from 821 school-aged children, survey data from 411 households where those children resided, and ecological data from all 24 village water access sites. We fit mixed-effects logistic and negative binomial regressions with indices of exposure, hazard, and vulnerability as explanatory variables of Schistosoma haematobium presence and intensity, respectively, controlling for demographic variables. Using multi-model inference to calculate the relative importance of each component of risk, we found that hazard (Ʃw i = 0.95) was the most important component of S . haematobium presence, followed by vulnerability (Ʃw i = 0.91). Exposure (Ʃw i = 1.00) was the most important more » component of S . haematobium intensity, followed by hazard (Ʃw i = 0.77). Model averaging quantified associations between each infection outcome and indices of exposure, hazard, and vulnerability, revealing a positive association between hazard and infection presence (OR = 1.49, 95% CI 1.12, 1.97), and a positive association between exposure and infection intensity (RR 2.59–3.86, depending on the category; all 95% CIs above 1) Conclusions/Significance Our findings underscore the linkages between social (exposure and vulnerability) and environmental (hazard) processes in the acquisition and accumulation of S . haematobium infection. This approach highlights the importance of implementing both social and environmental interventions to complement mass drug administration. « less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Lamberton, Poppy H.
Award ID(s):
2011179 2024383
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background Water resources development promotes agricultural expansion and food security. But are these benefits offset by increased infectious disease risk? Dam construction on the Senegal River in 1986 was followed by agricultural expansion and increased transmission of human schistosomes. Yet the mechanisms linking these two processes at the individual and household levels remain unclear. We investigated the association between household land use and schistosome infection in children. Methods We analyzed cross-sectional household survey data ( n  = 655) collected in 16 rural villages in August 2016  across demographic, socio-economic and land use dimensions, which were matched to Schistosoma haematobium ( nmore » = 1232) and S. mansoni ( n  = 1222) infection data collected from school-aged children. Mixed effects regression determined the relationship between irrigated area and schistosome infection presence and intensity. Results Controlling for socio-economic and demographic risk factors, irrigated area cultivated by a household was associated with an increase in the presence of S. haematobium infection (odds ratio [ OR ] = 1.14; 95% confidence interval [95% CI ]: 1.03–1.28) but not S. mansoni infection ( OR  = 1.02; 95% CI : 0.93–1.11). Associations between infection intensity and irrigated area were positive but imprecise ( S. haematobium: rate ratio [ RR ] = 1.05; 95% CI : 0.98–1.13, S. mansoni : RR  = 1.09; 95% CI : 0.89–1.32). Conclusions Household engagement in irrigated agriculture increases individual risk of S. haematobium but not S. mansoni infection. Increased contact with irrigated landscapes likely drives exposure, with greater impacts on households relying on agricultural livelihoods.« less
  2. Secor, W. Evan (Ed.)
    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 formore »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.« less
  3. Semrau, Jeremy D. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are opportunistic pathogens that cause chronic pulmonary disease (PD). NTM infections are thought to be acquired from the environment; however, the basal environmental factors that drive and sustain NTM prevalence are not well understood. The highest prevalence of NTM PD cases in the United States is reported from Hawai’i, which is unique in its climate and soil composition, providing an opportunity to investigate the environmental drivers of NTM prevalence. We used microbiological sampling and spatial logistic regression complemented with fine-scale soil mineralogy to model the probability of NTM presence across the natural landscape of Hawai’i. Overmore »7 years, we collected and microbiologically cultured 771 samples from 422 geographic sites in natural areas across the Hawaiian Islands for the presence of NTM. NTM were detected in 210 of these samples (27%), with Mycobacterium abscessus being the most frequently isolated species. The probability of NTM presence was highest in expansive soils (those that swell with water) with a high water balance (>1-m difference between rainfall and evapotranspiration) and rich in Fe-oxides/hydroxides. We observed a positive association between NTM presence and iron in wet soils, supporting past studies, but no such association in dry soils. High soil-water balance may facilitate underground movement of NTM into the aquifer system, potentially compounded by expansive capabilities allowing crack formation under drought conditions, representing further possible avenues for aquifer infiltration. These results suggest both precipitation and soil properties are mechanisms by which surface NTM may reach the human water supply. IMPORTANCE Nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are ubiquitous in the environment, being found commonly in soils and natural bodies of freshwater. However, little is known about the environmental niches of NTM and how they relate to NTM prevalence in homes and other human-dominated areas. To characterize NTM environmental associations, we collected and cultured 771 samples from 422 geographic sites in natural areas across Hawai’i, the U.S. state with the highest prevalence of NTM pulmonary disease. We show that the environmental niches of NTM are most associated with highly expansive, moist soils containing high levels of iron oxides/hydroxides. Understanding the factors associated with NTM presence in the natural environment will be crucial for identifying potential mechanisms and risk factors associated with NTM infiltration into water supplies, which are ultimately piped into homes where most exposure risk is thought to occur.« less
  4. Abstract Background

    Infections with nontyphoidalSalmonellacause an estimated 19,336 hospitalizations each year in the United States. Sources of infection can vary by state and include animal and plant-based foods, as well as environmental reservoirs. Several studies have recognized the importance of increased ambient temperature and precipitation in the spread and persistence ofSalmonellain soil and food. However, the impact of extreme weather events onSalmonellainfection rates among the most prevalent serovars, has not been fully evaluated across distinct U.S. regions.


    To address this knowledge gap, we obtainedSalmonellacase data forS.Enteriditis,S.Typhimurium,S.Newport, andS.Javiana (2004-2014; n = 32,951) from the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), and weathermore »data from the National Climatic Data Center (1960-2014). Extreme heat and precipitation events for the study period (2004-2014) were identified using location and calendar day specific 95thpercentile thresholds derived using a 30-year baseline (1960-1989). Negative binomial generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the association between exposure to extreme events and salmonellosis rates.


    We observed that extreme heat exposure was associated with increased rates of infection withS.Newport in Maryland (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR): 1.07, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.01, 1.14), and Tennessee (IRR: 1.06, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.09), both FoodNet sites with high densities of animal feeding operations (e.g., broiler chickens and cattle). Extreme precipitation events were also associated with increased rates ofS.Javiana infections, by 22% in Connecticut (IRR: 1.22, 95% CI: 1.10, 1.35) and by 5% in Georgia (IRR: 1.05, 95% CI: 1.01, 1.08), respectively. In addition, there was an 11% (IRR: 1.11, 95% CI: 1.04-1.18) increased rate ofS. Newport infections in Maryland associated with extreme precipitation events.


    Overall, our study suggests a stronger association between extreme precipitation events, compared to extreme heat, and salmonellosis across multiple U.S. regions. In addition, the rates of infection withSalmonellaserovars that persist in environmental or plant-based reservoirs, such asS.Javiana andS.Newport, appear to be of particular significance regarding increased heat and rainfall events.

    « less
  5. Abstract Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) the causal agent for COVID-19, is a communicable disease spread through close contact. It is known to disproportionately impact certain communities due to both biological susceptibility and inequitable exposure. In this study, we investigate the most important health, social, and environmental factors impacting the early phases (before July, 2020) of per capita COVID-19 transmission and per capita all-cause mortality in US counties. We aggregate county-level physical and mental health, environmental pollution, access to health care, demographic characteristics, vulnerable population scores, and other epidemiological data to create a large feature set to analyzemore »per capita COVID-19 outcomes. Because of the high-dimensionality, multicollinearity, and unknown interactions of the data, we use ensemble machine learning and marginal prediction methods to identify the most salient factors associated with several COVID-19 outbreak measure. Our variable importance results show that measures of ethnicity, public transportation and preventable diseases are the strongest predictors for both per capita COVID-19 incidence and mortality. Specifically, the CDC measures for minority populations, CDC measures for limited English, and proportion of Black- and/or African-American individuals in a county were the most important features for per capita COVID-19 cases within a month after the pandemic started in a county and also at the latest date examined. For per capita all-cause mortality at day 100 and total to date, we find that public transportation use and proportion of Black- and/or African-American individuals in a county are the strongest predictors. The methods predict that, keeping all other factors fixed, a 10% increase in public transportation use, all other factors remaining fixed at the observed values, is associated with increases mortality at day 100 of 2012 individuals (95% CI [1972, 2356]) and likewise a 10% increase in the proportion of Black- and/or African-American individuals in a county is associated with increases total deaths at end of study of 2067 (95% CI [1189, 2654]). Using data until the end of study, the same metric suggests ethnicity has double the association as the next most important factors, which are location, disease prevalence, and transit factors. Our findings shed light on societal patterns that have been reported and experienced in the U.S. by using robust methods to understand the features most responsible for transmission and sectors of society most vulnerable to infection and mortality. In particular, our results provide evidence of the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on minority populations. Our results suggest that mitigation measures, including how vaccines are distributed, could have the greatest impact if they are given with priority to the highest risk communities.« less