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The state of the leprosy epidemic in Yunnan, China 2011-2020: A spatial and spatiotemporal analysis, highlighting areas for intervention.


BACKGROUND: Despite public health efforts to reduce the leprosy burden in Yunnan, China, leprosy remains an important public health problem in some specific areas. We analyzed the epidemiological characteristics and spatial distribution of leprosy in Yunnan, China, and provide data to guide disease prevention and control efforts.

METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: The surveillance data of newly detected leprosy cases in Yunnan, China, during 2011-2020 were extracted from the LEPROSY MANAGEMANT INFORMATION SYSTEM IN CHINA (LEPMIS), and spatial distribution analysis, spatial autocorrelation analysis, and spatiotemporal scanning were performed with ArcGIS 10.6.1, GeoDa 1.8.8, and SaTScan 9.4.3 software, respectively. A total of 1907 newly detected leprosy cases were reported in Yunnan, China, during 2011-2020. The new case detection rate (NCDR) decreased from 0.62 in 2011 to 0.25 in 2020, with an annual incidence of 0.41/100,000 population. The proportions of multibacillary (MB) cases, cases in female patients, cases causing grade 2 physical disability (G2D), and cases in pediatric patients were 67.07%, 33.93%, 17.99%, and 2.83%, respectively. The number of counties with an incidence above 1/100,000 population decreased from 30 in 2011 to 8 in 2020. The Moran's I of leprosy in Yunnan, China, during 2011-2020 ranged from 0.076 to 0.260, indicating the presence of spatial clusters. Local spatial autocorrelation (LSA) analysis showed that high-high cluster areas (hot spots) were mainly distributed in the southeastern, northern, and northwestern regions. Spatiotemporal scanning showed three clusters with high NCDRs. The probably primary clusters, occurring during January 1, 2011-December 31, 2015, covered 11 counties in the southeastern region (RR = 5.046515, LRR = 271.749664, P = 0.000).

CONCLUSION: The number of leprosy cases in Yunnan decreased overall, although some high-NCDR regions remained. Geographic information system (GIS) analysis coupled with spatial analysis indicated regions with leprosy clusters. Continuous leprosy prevention and control strategies in Yunnan Province should be established, and interventions in high-risk regions should be prioritized and further strengthened.

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Journal Article
Chen X
Shui T