Entomological surveillance and spatiotemporal risk assessment of sand fly-borne diseases in Cyprus

Christou M., Koyutourk B., Yetismis K., Martinou A. F., Christodoulou V., Koliou M., ...More

Current Research in Parasitology and Vector-Borne Diseases, vol.4, 2023 (Scopus) identifier


Visceral and cutaneous leishmaniases are important public health concerns in Cyprus. Although the diseases, historically prevalent on the island, were nearly eradicated by 1996, an increase in frequency and geographical spread has recently been recorded. Upward trends in leishmaniasis prevalence have largely been attributed to environmental changes that amplify the abundance and activity of its vector, the phlebotomine sand flies. Here, we performed an extensive field study across the island to map the sand fly fauna and compared the presence and distribution of the species found with historical records. We mapped the habitat preferences of Phlebotomus papatasi and P. tobbi, two medically important species, and predicted the seasonal abundance of P. papatasi at unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution using a climate-sensitive population dynamics model driven by high-resolution meteorological forecasting. Our compendium holds a record of 18 species and the locations of a subset, including those of potential public and veterinary health concern. We confirmed that P. papatasi is widespread, especially in densely urbanized areas, and predicted that its abundance uniformly peaks across the island at the end of summer. We identified potential hotspots of P. papatasi activity even after this peak. Our results form a foundation to inform public health planning and contribute to the development of effective, efficient, and environmentally sensitive strategies to control sand fly populations and prevent sand fly-borne diseases.