Spatiotemporal and molecular epidemiology of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Libya
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Background Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a major public health problem in Libya. In this paper, we describe the eco-epidemiological parameters of CL during the armed conflict period from January 2011 till December 2012. Current spatiotemporal distributions of CL cases were explored and projected to the future using a correlative modelling approach. In addition the present results were compared with our previous data obtained for the time period 1995± 2008. Methodology/Principal findings We investigated 312 CL patients who presented to the Dermatology Department at the Tripoli Central Hospital and came from 81 endemic areas distributed in 10 districts. The patients presented with typical localized lesions which appeared commonly on the face, arms and legs. Molecular identification of parasites by a PCR-RFLP approach targeting the ITS1 region of the rDNA was successful for 81 patients with two causative species identified: L. major and L. tropica comprised 59 (72.8%) and 22 (27.2%) cases, respectively. Around 77.3% of L. tropica CL and 57.7% of L. major CL caused single lesions. Five CL patients among our data set were seropositive for HIV. L. tropica was found mainly in three districts, Murqub (27.3%), Jabal al Gharbi (27.3%) and Misrata (13.7%) while L. major was found in two districts, in Jabal al Gharbi (61%) and Jafara (20.3%). Seasonal occurrence of CL cases showed that most cases (74.2%) admitted to the hospital between November and March, L. major cases from November till January (69.4%), and L. tropica cases mainly in January and February (41%). Two risk factors were identified for the two species; the presence of previously infected household members, and the presence of rodents and sandflies in patient's neighborhoods. Spatiotemporal projections using correlative distribution models based on current case data and climatic conditions showed that coastal regions have a higher level of risk due to more favourable conditions for the transmitting vectors. Conclusion Future projection of CL until 2060 showed a trend of increasing incidence of CL in the northwestern part of Libya, a spread along the coastal region and a possible emergence of new endemics in the north-eastern districts of Libya. These results should be considered for control programs to prevent the emergence of new endemic areas taking also into consideration changes in socio-economical factors such as migration, conflicts, urbanization, land use and access to health care.