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Relative importance of meteorological and geographical factors in the distribution of Fasciola hepatica infestation in farmed sheep in Qinghai province, China.

ABSTRACT

Fasciola hepatica is an important trematode parasite of economic importance that infests sheep and cattle worldwide. We conducted a detailed investigation into the spatial distribution of F. hepatica infestation in farmed sheep in Qinghai (Wutumeiren) province, Mainland China. Mathematical modelling was used to assess the inter-relationships between meteorological and geographical factors and the risk of F. hepatica infestation across the province. A capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test (MM3-SERO) was used to detect F. hepatica infestation. A niche model based on the maximum entropy method (MaxEnt) was used to estimate the influence of meteorological and geographical factors on the observed spatial distribution of F. hepatica infestation. Results of jackknife analysis indicated that temperature, precipitation, solar radiation, digital elevation and slope were associated with the occurrence of F. hepatica infestation, and that infestation rates were significantly higher among animals from districts with a high percentage of grassland habitat. The findings indicate that meteorological and geographical factors may be important variables affecting the distribution of F. hepatica infestation and should be taken into account in the development of future surveillance and control programmes for fascioliasis.