Mapping the risk of Rift Valley fever in Uganda using national seroprevalence data from cattle, sheep and goats
Uganda has had repeated outbreaks of Rift Valley fever (RVF) since March 2016 when human and livestock cases were reported in Kabale after a long interval. The disease has a complex and poorly described transmission patterns which involves several mosquito vectors and mammalian hosts (including humans). We conducted a national serosurvey in livestock to determine RVF virus (RVFV) seroprevalence, risk factors, and to develop a risk map that could be used to guide risk-based surveillance and control measures. A total of 3,253 animals from 175 herds were sampled. Serum samples collected were screened at the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Centre (NADDEC) using a competition multispecies anti-RVF IgG ELISA kit. Data obtained were analyzed using a Bayesian model that utilizes integrated nested Laplace approximation (INLA) and stochastic partial differential equation (SPDE) approaches to estimate posterior distributions of model parameters, and account for spatial autocorrelation. Variables considered included animal level factors (age, sex, species) and multiple environmental data including meteorological factors, soil types, and altitude. A risk map was produced by projecting fitted (mean) values, from a final model that had environmental factors onto a spatial grid that covered the entire domain. The overall RVFV seroprevalence was 11.39% (95% confidence interval: 10.35–12.51%). Higher RVFV seroprevalences were observed in older animals compared to the young, and cattle compared to sheep and goats. RVFV seroprevalence was also higher in areas that had (i) lower precipitation seasonality, (ii) haplic planosols, and (iii) lower cattle density. The risk map generated demonstrated that RVF virus was endemic in several regions including those that have not reported clinical outbreaks in the northeastern part of the country. This work has improved our understanding on spatial distribution of RVFV risk in the country as well as RVF burden in livestock.