A Theoretical Analysis of the Geography of Schistosomiasis in Burkina Faso Highlights the Roles of Human Mobility and Water Resources Development in Disease Transmission
We study the geography of schistosomiasis across Burkina Faso by means of a spatially explicit model of water-based disease dynamics. The model quantitatively addresses the geographic stratification of disease burden in a novel framework by explicitly accounting for drivers and controls of the disease, including spatial information on the distributions of population and infrastructure, jointly with a general description of human mobility and climatic/ecological drivers. Spatial patterns of disease are analysed by the extraction and the mapping of suitable eigenvectors of the Jacobian matrix subsuming the stability of the disease-free equilibrium. The relevance of the work lies in the novel mapping of disease burden, a byproduct of the parametrization induced by regional upscaling, by model-guided field validations and in the predictive scenarios allowed by exploiting the range of possible parameters and processes. Human mobility is found to be a primary control at regional scales both for pathogen invasion success and the overall distribution of disease burden. The effects of water resources development highlighted by systematic reviews are accounted for by the average distances of human settlements from water bodies that are habitats for the parasite’s intermediate host. Our results confirm the empirical findings about the role of water resources development on disease spread into regions previously nearly disease-free also by inspection of empirical prevalence patterns. We conclude that while the model still needs refinements based on field and epidemiological evidence, the proposed framework provides a powerful tool for large-scale public health planning and schistosomiasis management.