Yellow fever (YF) is an arboviral disease which is endemic to Brazil due to a sylvatic transmission cycle maintained by infected mosquito vectors, non-human primate (NHP) hosts, and humans. Despite the existence of an effective vaccine, recent sporadic YF epidemics have underscored concerns about sylvatic vector surveillance, as very little is known about their spatial distribution. Here, we model and map the environmental suitability of YF’s main vectors in Brazil, Haemagogus spp. and Sabethes spp., and use human population and NHP data to identify locations prone to transmission and spillover risk.
We compiled a comprehensive set of occurrence records on Hg. janthinomys, Hg. leucocelaenus, and Sabethes spp. from 1991–2019 using primary and secondary data sources. Linking these data with selected environmental and land-cover variables, we adopted a stacked regression ensemble modelling approach (elastic-net regularized GLM, extreme gradient boosted regression trees, and random forest) to predict the environmental suitability of these species across Brazil at a 1x1 km resolution. We show that while suitability for each species varies spatially, high suitability for all species was predicted in the Southeastern region where recent outbreaks have occurred. By integrating data on NHP host reservoirs and human populations, our risk maps further highlight municipalities within the region that are prone to transmission and spillover.
Our maps of sylvatic vector suitability can help elucidate potential locations of sylvatic reservoirs and be used as a tool to help mitigate risk of future YF outbreaks and assist in vector surveillance. Furthermore, at-risk regions identified from our work could help disease control and elucidate gaps in vaccination coverage and NHP host surveillance.