Remotely identifying potential vector habitat in areas of refugee and displaced person populations due to the Syrian civil war

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Samuel N. Chambers *
Joseph A. Tabor
(*) Corresponding Author:
Samuel N. Chambers |


Historically leishmaniasis is most prevalent in established urban centres but this research shows that refugees and, most significantly, internally displaced persons are now commonly in areas characterized by the presence of fly habitats potentially leading to higher prominence of Leishmania infection. Areas engulfed by the Syrian civil war has thus caused the dispersal of humans into previously unpopulated areas amid habitats of the sand fly Phlebotomus papatasi that hosts the parasite Leishmania. The addition of new places of exposure to this disease add to difficulties with respect to diagnosis as well as provision of care and treatment. We used geospatial methodology adapting it to remotely identifying and analyzing sand fly habitats with the aim of measuring how common it is. Our methodology helps avoid the issue of resolution in satellite imagery by measuring likelihood rather than strictly known locations. We followed up this information with spatial analysis identifying which civilian populations are most prone to sand fly exposure, and therefore leishmaniasis, due to their geographical situation. Our results suggest that those most likely to be exposed to Leishmania are internally displaced persons, those camps less likely to receive medical relief and typically having temporary residents migrating elsewhere.

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