Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is a vector-borne disease of major importance in Asia. Recent increases in cases have spawned the development of more stringent JE surveillance. Due to the difficulty of making a clinical diagnosis, increased tracking of common symptoms associated with JE-generally classified as the umbrella term, acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) has been developed in many countries. In Nepal, there is some debate as to what AES cases are, and how JE risk factors relate to AES risk. Three parts of this analysis included investigating the temporal pattern of cases, examining the age and vaccination status patterns among AES surveillance data, and then focusing on spatial patterns of risk factors. AES and JE cases from 2007-2011 reported at a district level (n = 75) were examined in relation to landscape risk factors. Landscape pattern indices were used to quantify landscape patterns associated with JE risk. The relative spatial distribution of landscape risk factors were compared using geographically weighted regression. Pattern indices describing the amount of irrigated land edge density and the degree of landscape mixing for irrigated areas were positively associated with JE and AES, while fragmented forest measured by the number of forest patches were negatively associated with AES and JE. For both JE and AES, the local GWR models outperformed global models, indicating spatial heterogeneity in risks. Temporally, the patterns of JE and AES risk were almost identical; suggesting the relative higher caseload of AES compared to JE could provide a valuable early-warning signal for JE surveillance and reduce diagnostic testing costs. Overall, the landscape variables associated with a high degree of landscape mixing and small scale irrigated agriculture were positively linked to JE and AES risk, highlighting the importance of integrating land management policies, disease prevention strategies and promoting healthy sustainable livelihoods in both rural and urban-fringe developing areas. © 2013 Robertson et al.
Robertson, C., Pant, D. K., Joshi, D. D., Sharma, M., Dahal, M., & Stephen, C. (2013). Comparative Spatial Dynamics of Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome in Nepal. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066168