DOI: 10.3390/pathogens12121423 ISSN: 2076-0817

An Integrated Ecological Niche Modelling Framework for Risk Mapping of Peste des Petits Ruminants Virus Exposure in African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) in the Greater Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem

Laura Carrera-Faja, Chris Yesson, Bryony A. Jones, Camilla T. O. Benfield, Richard A. Kock
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Allergy

Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a highly contagious viral disease of small ruminants that threatens livelihoods and food security in developing countries and, in some cases, wild ungulate species conservation. The Greater Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem (GSME) encompasses one of the major wildlife populations of PPR virus (PPRV)-susceptible species left on earth, although no clinical disease has been reported so far. This study aimed to gain further knowledge about PPRV circulation in the GSME by identifying which factors predict PPRV seropositivity in African buffalo (Syncerus caffer). Following an ecological niche modeling framework to map host-pathogen distribution, two models of PPRV exposure and buffalo habitat suitability were performed using serological data and buffalo censuses. Western Maasai Mara National Reserve and Western Serengeti National Park were identified as high-risk areas for PPRV exposure in buffalo. Variables related to wildlife-livestock interaction contributed to the higher risk of PPRV seropositivity in buffalo, providing supportive evidence that buffalo acquire the virus through contact with infected livestock. These findings can guide the design of cost-effective PPRV surveillance using buffalo as a sentinel species at the identified high-risk locations. As more intensive studies have been carried out in Eastern GSME, this study highlights the need for investigating PPRV dynamics in Western GSME.

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