Environmental risk factors for cutaneous leishmaniasis were investigated for the largest outbreak recorded in Colombia. The outbreak began in 2003 in Chaparral, and in the following five years produced 2,313 cases in a population of 56,228. Candidate predictor variables were land use, elevation, and climatic variables such as mean temperature and precipitation. Spatial analysis showed that incidence of cutaneous leishmaniasis was higher in townships with mean temperatures in the middle of the county's range. Incidence was independently associated with higher coverage with forest or shrubs (2.6% greater for each additional percent coverage, 95% credible interval [CI] = 0.5-4.9%), and lower population density (22% lower for each additional 100 persons/km2, 95% CI = 7-41%). The extent of forest or shrub coverage did not show major changes over time. These findings confirmed the roles of climate and land use in leishmaniasis transmission. However, environmental variables were not sufficient to explain the spatial variation in incidence.
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