Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Scrub Typhus Transmission in Mainland China, 2006-2014

Yi Cheng Wu, Quan Qian, Ricardo J. Soares Magalhaes, Zhi Hai Han, Wen Biao Hu, Ubydul Haque, Thomas A. Weppelmann, Yong Wang, Yun Xi Liu, Xin Lou Li, Hai Long Sun, Yan Song Sun, Archie C.A. Clements, Shen Long Li, Wen Yi Zhang

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40 Scopus citations


Background: Scrub typhus is endemic in the Asia-Pacific region including China, and the number of reported cases has increased dramatically in the past decade. However, the spatial-temporal dynamics and the potential risk factors in transmission of scrub typhus in mainland China have yet to be characterized. Objective: This study aims to explore the spatiotemporal dynamics of reported scrub typhus cases in mainland China between January 2006 and December 2014, to detect the location of high risk spatiotemporal clusters of scrub typhus cases, and identify the potential risk factors affecting the re-emergence of the disease. Method: Monthly cases of scrub typhus reported at the county level between 2006 and 2014 were obtained from the Chinese Center for Diseases Control and Prevention. Time-series analyses, spatiotemporal cluster analyses, and spatial scan statistics were used to explore the characteristics of the scrub typhus incidence. To explore the association between scrub typhus incidence and environmental variables panel Poisson regression analysis was conducted. Results: During the time period between 2006 and 2014 a total of 54,558 scrub typhus cases were reported in mainland China, which grew exponentially. The majority of cases were reported each year between July and November, with peak incidence during October every year. The spatiotemporal dynamics of scrub typhus varied over the study period with high-risk clusters identified in southwest, southern, and middle-eastern part of China. Scrub typhus incidence was positively correlated with the percentage of shrub and meteorological variables including temperature and precipitation. Conclusions: The results of this study demonstrate areas in China that could be targeted with public health interventions to mitigate the growing threat of scrub typhus in the country.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0004875
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016


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