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BACKGROUND: Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a neglected disease that is spread to humans by the bites of infected female phlebotomine sand flies. Although this vector-borne disease has been eliminated in most parts of China, it still poses a significant public health burden in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Understanding of the spatial epidemiology of the disease remains vague in the local community. In the present study, we investigated the spatiotemporal distribution of VL in the region in order to assess the potential threat of the disease. METHODS: Based on comprehensive infection records, the spatiotemporal patterns of new cases of VL in the region between 2005 and 2015 were analysed. By combining maps of environmental and socioeconomic correlates, the boosted regression tree (BRT) model was adopted to identify the environmental niche of VL. RESULTS: The fitted BRT models were used to map potential infection risk zones of VL in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, revealing that the predicted high infection risk zones were mainly concentrated in central and northern Kashgar Prefecture, south of Atushi City bordering Kashgar Prefecture and regions of the northern Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture. The final result revealed that approximately 16.64 million people inhabited the predicted potential infection risk areas in the region. CONCLUSIONS: Our results provide a better understanding of the potential endemic foci of VL in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region with a 1 km spatial resolution, thereby enhancing our capacity to target the potential risk areas, to develop disease control strategies and to allocate medical supplies.

Original publication




Journal article


Parasit Vectors

Publication Date





Environmental niche, Infection risk, Spatiotemporal patterns, Visceral leishmaniasis, China, Climate, Humans, Leishmaniasis, Visceral, Neglected Diseases, Risk Factors, Socioeconomic Factors, Spatio-Temporal Analysis, Topography, Medical, Vector Borne Diseases