Understanding transmission risk and predicting environmental suitability for Mayaro Virus in Central and South America

Michael Celone*, Sean Beeman, Barbara A. Han, Alexander M. Potter, David B. Pecor, Bernard Okech, Simon Pollett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mayaro virus (MAYV) is a mosquito-borne Alphavirus that is widespread in South America. MAYV infection often presents with non-specific febrile symptoms but may progress to debilitating chronic arthritis or arthralgia. Despite the pandemic threat of MAYV, its true distribution remains unknown. The objective of this study was to clarify the geographic distribution of MAYV using an established risk mapping framework. This consisted of generating evidence consensus scores for MAYV presence, modeling the potential distribution of MAYV in select countries across Central and South America, and estimating the population residing in areas suitable for MAYV transmission. We compiled a georeferenced compendium of MAYV occurrence in humans, animals, and arthropods. Based on an established evidence consensus framework, we integrated multiple information sources to assess the total evidence supporting ongoing transmission of MAYV within each country in our study region. We then developed high resolution maps of the disease’s estimated distribution using a boosted regression tree approach. Models were developed using nine climatic and environmental covariates that are related to the MAYV transmission cycle. Using the output of our boosted regression tree models, we estimated the total population living in regions suitable for MAYV transmission. The evidence consensus scores revealed high or very high evidence of MAYV transmission in several countries including Brazil (especially the states of Mato Grosso and Goiás), Venezuela, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, and French Guiana. According to the boosted regression tree models, a substantial region of South America is suitable for MAYV transmission, including north and central Brazil, French Guiana, and Suriname. Some regions (e.g., Guyana) with only moderate evidence of known transmission were identified as highly suitable for MAYV. We estimate that approximately 58.9 million people (95% CI: 21.4–100.4) in Central and South America live in areas that may be suitable for MAYV transmission, including 46.2 million people (95% CI: 17.6–68.9) in Brazil. Our results may assist in prioritizing high-risk areas for vector control, human disease surveillance and ecological studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0011859
JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes


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