Mapping Yellow fever Epidemics As a Potential Indicator of the Historical Range of Aedes aegypti In the United States

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Biological Sciences


Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences


Background: Yellow fever (YF) plagued the United States from the 1690s until 1905, resulting in thousands of deaths. Within the US, Aedes aegypti is the only YF vector and almost no data exists for the location of this species prior to the early 1900s.

Objectives: To determine the historical range of Ae. aegypti we examined the occurrence of YF epidemics across time and space. We hypothesized that historically Ae. aegypti was driven by human population density, like its contemporary range suggests.

Methods: To test this hypothesis, we compiled a list of YF cases in the US, human population density, location, and the number of people infected. This data was mapped using ArcGIS and was analyzed using linear regression models to determine the relationship among variables.

Findings: The historic range was generally south of 40º latitude, from Texas in the west to Florida in the east, with concentrations along major waterways like the Mississippi River. Infected individuals and human population density were strongly correlated across the whole dataset as well as by decade.

Main Conclusions: Although other factors likely affected the range of Ae. aegypti, we found that human population density was related to the number of people infected with historic YF infections.

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Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz

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