Rat-bites of an epidemic proportion in Peshawar vale; a GIS based approach in risk assessment
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Contemporary studies demonstrate that rodent bites do not occur frequently. However, a huge number of cases were reported from Peshawar vale, Pakistan during 2016. Two species, the local black rat Rattus rattus (Linnaeus, 1758) and the invasive brown rat Rattus norvegicus (Berkenhout, 1769) might be the suspected cause. Several studies indicated the invasion of brown rats into Pakistan presumably via port city of Karachi. In this study, we modeled geospatial distribution of rodent bites for risk assessment in the region. Bite cases reported to tertiary care lady reading hospital were monitored from January 1 to August 31, 2016. Among 1747 cases, statistically informative data (n = 1295) was used for analyses. MaxEnt algorithm was employed for geospatial modeling, taking into account various environmental variables (temperature, precipitation, humidity, and elevation) and anthropogenic factors (human population density, distance from roads, distance from water channels, and land use/land cover). MaxEnt results revealed that urban slums (84.5%) are at highest risk followed by croplands (10.9%) and shrublands (2.7%). Anthropogenic factors affecting incidence of rodent bites included host density (contribution: 34.7), distance from water channels (3.2), land use/land cover (2.8), and distance from roads (2). Most of the cases occurred within a radius of 0.3 km from roads and 5 km from water channels. Rodent bite incidence is currently at its peak in Peshawar vale. Factors significantly affecting rodents’ bite activity and their distribution and dispersal include urbanization, distance from roads, and water channels. Further studies are needed to determine the impact of invasion by brown rat on bite incidence.
KeywordsRattus norvegicus MaxEnt Pakistan Rat bites
We are thankful to two BS students of Zoology Department University of Peshawar, Miss Seemab and Miss Sumaira, for data collection from Lady Reading Hospital of Peshawar. We are also thankful to Mr. Shahryar, photographer APP, for providing photographs of Peshawar City after a rainstorm.
SHF formulated methodology, carried out data analysis using GIS tools, and prepared the manuscript. FZ designed the study and prepared the manuscript. MA contributed in data acquisition. AA extended helped during the geospatial analysis. QJ collected and identified rat specimens. MK worked out the final draft of the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interests
The authors declare that there is no conflict of interests.
Availability of data and materials
Our data is available on Mendeley Data online repository.
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