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Risk factors for the presence of chikungunya and dengue vectors (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus), their altitudinal distribution and climatic determinants of their abundance in central Nepal


Risk factors for the presence of chikungunya and dengue vectors (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus), their altitudinal distribution and climatic determinants of their abundance in central Nepal



Plos Neglected Tropical Diseases 9(3): E0003545



ISSN/ISBN: 1935-2727

PMID: 25774518

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003545

The presence of the recently introduced primary dengue virus vector mosquito Aedes aegypti in Nepal, in association with the likely indigenous secondary vector Aedes albopictus, raises public health concerns. Chikungunya fever cases have also been reported in Nepal, and the virus causing this disease is also transmitted by these mosquito species. Here we report the results of a study on the risk factors for the presence of chikungunya and dengue virus vectors, their elevational ceiling of distribution, and climatic determinants of their abundance in central Nepal. We collected immature stages of mosquitoes during six monthly cross-sectional surveys covering six administrative districts along an altitudinal transect in central Nepal that extended from Birgunj (80 m above sea level [asl]) to Dhunche (highest altitude sampled: 2,100 m asl). The dengue vectors Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus were commonly found up to 1,350 m asl in Kathmandu valley and were present but rarely found from 1,750 to 2,100 m asl in Dhunche. The lymphatic filariasis vector Culex quinquefasciatus was commonly found throughout the study transect. Physiographic region, month of collection, collection station and container type were significant predictors of the occurrence and co-occurrence of Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. The climatic variables rainfall, temperature, and relative humidity were significant predictors of chikungunya and dengue virus vectors abundance. We conclude that chikungunya and dengue virus vectors have already established their populations up to the High Mountain region of Nepal and that this may be attributed to the environmental and climate change that has been observed over the decades in Nepal. The rapid expansion of the distribution of these important disease vectors in the High Mountain region, previously considered to be non-endemic for dengue and chikungunya fever, calls for urgent actions to protect the health of local people and tourists travelling in the central Himalayas.

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