Modeling the potential future distribution of anthrax outbreaks under multiple climate change scenarios for Kenya

The climate is changing, and such changes are projected to cause global increase in the prevalence and geographic ranges of infectious diseases such as anthrax. There is limited knowledge in the tropics with regards to expected impacts of climate change on anthrax outbreaks. We determined the future distribution of anthrax in Kenya with representative concentration pathways (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5 for year 2055. Ecological niche modelling (ENM) of boosted regression trees (BRT) was applied in predicting the potential geographic distribution of anthrax for current and future climatic conditions. The models were fitted with presence-only anthrax occurrences (n = 178) from historical archives (2011–2017), sporadic outbreak surveys (2017–2018), and active surveillance (2019–2020). The selected environmental variables in order of importance included rainfall of wettest month, mean precipitation (February, October, December, July), annual temperature range, temperature seasonality, length of longest dry season, potential evapotranspiration and slope. We found a general anthrax risk areal expansion i.e., current, 36,131 km2, RCP 4.5, 40,012 km2, and RCP 8.5, 39,835 km2. The distribution exhibited a northward shift from current to future. This prediction of the potential anthrax distribution under changing climates can inform anticipatory measures to mitigate future anthrax risk.