Yellow fever in Ghana: Predicting emergence and ecology from historical outbreaks

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Abstract

Understanding the epidemiology and ecology of yellow fever in endemic regions is critical for preventing future outbreaks. Ghana is a high-risk country for yellow fever. In this study we estimate the epidemiology, ecological cycles, and areas at risk for yellow fever in Ghana based on historical outbreaks. We identify 2371 cases and 887 deaths (case fatality rate 37.4%) from yellow fever reported in Ghana from 1910 to 2022. Since implementation of routine childhood vaccination in 1992, the estimated mean annual number of cases decreased by 81% and the geographic distribution of yellow fever cases also changed. While there have been multiple large historical outbreaks of yellow fever in Ghana from the urban cycle, recent outbreaks have originated among unvaccinated nomadic groups in rural areas with the sylvatic/savanna cycles. Using machine learning and an ecological niche modeling framework, we predict areas in Ghana that are similar to where prior yellow fever outbreaks have originated based on temperature, precipitation, landcover, elevation, and human population density. We find differences in predictions depending on the ecological cycles of outbreaks. Ultimately, these findings and methods could be used to inform further subnational risk assessments for yellow fever in Ghana and other high-risk countries.

Author Summary

Yellow fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever transmitted by mosquitoes in Africa and South America through different ecological transmission cycles. While West Africa has had the most cases of yellow fever, less is known about the epidemiology and ecology of yellow fever among countries in this region. Ghana has had multiple yellow fever outbreaks, including a recent outbreak in 2021-2022. In this study we estimate cases and deaths due to yellow fever in Ghana, compare the ecological cycles of outbreaks, and predict future areas at risk based on prior yellow fever cases and environmental conditions. We find that the populations at risk for yellow fever in Ghana have changed over the past century and that different ecological factors influence the risk of future emergence. Understanding these changes and the nuances of yellow fever epidemiology and ecology within countries will be important for future outbreak preparedness.

Article activity feed

  1. Anonymous

    Review 6: "Yellow Fever in Ghana: Predicting Emergence and Ecology from Historical Outbreaks"

    While acknowledging the strengths of the studies, reviewers also offer constructive criticism regarding methodological clarity, data interpretation, and the need for updated references.

  2. Tina Garske

    Review 5: "Yellow Fever in Ghana: Predicting Emergence and Ecology from Historical Outbreaks"

    While acknowledging the strengths of the studies, reviewers also offer constructive criticism regarding methodological clarity, data interpretation, and the need for updated references.

  3. Johnny Uelmen

    Review 4: "Yellow Fever in Ghana: Predicting Emergence and Ecology from Historical Outbreaks"

    While acknowledging the strengths of the studies, reviewers also offer constructive criticism regarding methodological clarity, data interpretation, and the need for updated references.

  4. Christian E Gunning

    Review 3: "Yellow Fever in Ghana: Predicting Emergence and Ecology from Historical Outbreaks"

    While acknowledging the strengths of the studies, reviewers also offer constructive criticism regarding methodological clarity, data interpretation, and the need for updated references.Β 

  5. Marta Giovanetti

    Review 2: "Yellow Fever in Ghana: Predicting Emergence and Ecology from Historical Outbreaks"

    While acknowledging the strengths of the studies, reviewers also offer constructive criticism regarding methodological clarity, data interpretation, and the need for updated references.Β 

  6. Bernard Onoja

    Review 1: "Yellow Fever in Ghana: Predicting Emergence and Ecology from Historical Outbreaks"

    While acknowledging the strengths of the studies, reviewers also offer constructive criticism regarding methodological clarity, data interpretation, and the need for updated references.Β 

  7. Strength of evidence

    Reviewers: B Onoja (University of Ibadan) | πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—β—»οΈ
    M Giovanetti (University of Rome) | πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜
    C E Gunning (University of Georgia) | πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜
    J Uelmen (Duke University) | πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜πŸ“˜
    T Garske (Imperial College London) | πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—β—»οΈ
    Anonymous | πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—πŸ“—β—»οΈ