Ecologic niche modeling of *Blastomyces dermatitidis* in Wisconsin
Reed, Kurt D.
Meece, Jennifer K.
Archer, John R.
Peterson, A. Townsend
Public Library of Science
Scholarly/refereed, publisher version
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Background: Blastomycosis is a potentially fatal mycosis that is acquired by inhaling infectious spores of Blastomyces dermatitidis present in the environment. The ecology of this pathogen is poorly understood, in part because it has been extremely difficult to identify the niche(s) it occupies based on culture isolation of the organism from environmental samples. Methodology/Principal Findings: We investigated the ecology of blastomycosis by performing maximum entropy modeling of exposure sites from 156 cases of human and canine blastomycosis to provide a regional-scale perspective of the geographic and ecologic distribution of B. dermatitidis in Wisconsin. Based on analysis with climatic, topographic, surface reflectance and other environmental variables, we predicted that ecologic conditions favorable for maintaining the fungus in nature occur predominantly within northern counties and counties along the western shoreline of Lake Michigan. Areas of highest predicted occurrence were often in proximity to waterways, especially in northcentral Wisconsin, where incidence of infection is highest. Ecologic conditions suitable for B. dermatitidis are present in urban and rural environments, and may differ at the extremes of distribution of the species in the state. Conclusions/Significance: Our results provide a framework for a more informed search for specific environmental factors modulating B. dermatitidis occurrence and transmission and will be useful for improving public health awareness of relative exposure risks.
Reed KD, Meece JK, Archer JR, Peterson AT (2008) Ecologic Niche Modeling of Blastomyces dermatitidis in Wisconsin. PLoS ONE 3(4): e2034. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0002034
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