Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Potential distribution of Pythium insidiosum in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and projections to neighbour countries.

Abstract

Pythium insidiosum is a widespread pathogen that causes pythiosis, a disease with severe health consequences in horses and humans worldwide. Latin America hosts one of the largest, but scattered, horse herds, making it critical to identify areas at high risk of pythiosis transmission to help guide surveillance in areas with disease transmission risk. We utilized ecological niche modelling and epidemiological data to reconstruct the ecological conditions for pathogen circulation to identify areas with potential risk of pythiosis in Brazil and Uruguay. We surveyed 338 horse farm locations in southern Brazil and reconstructed the landscape conditions where the disease is endemic, based on the association between high-resolution satellite imagery and P. insidiosum serology. The final model was projected to the entire Brazil-Uruguay border region to predict areas at risk of disease transmission. We detected 66 seropositive farms and risk of infection in areas with low vegetation and low temperatures. There was a significant difference between seropositive and seronegative locations, mainly during the summer, suggesting that P. insidiosum circulates under specific landscape conditions. Areas that were unsuitable for P. insidiosum circulation were clustered in the central, north-eastern, and north-western regions of the study area. Our findings suggest that P. insidiosum is a generalist pathogen that has the potential to circulate across broad areas in Uruguay and Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. The risk maps generated may help stakeholders with disease prevention, as well as highlight pythiosis as a potential transboundary disease with economic and public health importance.