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Landscape Fragmentation as a Risk Factor for Buruli Ulcer Disease in Ghana

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  • 1 Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania.
  • | 2 Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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Land cover and its change have been linked to Buruli ulcer (BU), a rapidly emerging tropical disease. However, it is unknown whether landscape structure affects the disease prevalence. To examine the association between landscape pattern and BU presence, we obtained land cover information for 20 villages in southwestern Ghana from high resolution satellite images, and analyzed the landscape pattern surrounding each village. Eight landscape metrics indicated that landscape patterns between BU case and reference villages were different (P < 0.05) at the broad spatial extent examined (4 km). The logistic regression models showed that landscape fragmentation and diversity indices were positively associated with BU presence in a village. Specifically, for each increase in patch density and edge density by 100 units, the likelihood of BU presence in a village increased 2.51 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.36–4.61) and 4.18 (95% CI = 1.63–10.76) times, respectively. The results suggest that increased landscape fragmentation may pose a risk to the emergence of BU.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Jianyong Wu, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599. E-mail: jianyong.wu@alumni.unc.edu

Financial support: The study was supported by an NSF CNH grant (no. 0909447).

Authors' addresses: Jianyong Wu, Gillings School of Global Public Health, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, E-mail: jianyong.wu@alumni.unc.edu. Erica A. H. Smithwick, Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, E-mail: erica.smithwick@gmail.com.

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