Counts of immature stages of the mosquito Aedes aegypti have been used to calculate several entomological indices of dengue vector abundance. Some studies have concluded that these indices can be used as indicators of dengue epidemic risk, while other studies have failed to find a predictive relationship. Ecological niche models have been able to predict distributional patterns in space and time, not only of vectors, but also of the diseases that they transmit. In this study, we used Landsat 7 ETM images and two niche-modeling algorithms to estimate the local-landscape ecological niche and the dynamics of Ae. aegypti larval habitats in Bello, Colombia, and to evaluate their potential spatial and temporal distribution. Our models showed low omission error with high confidence levels: about 13.4% of the area presents conditions consistently suitable for breeding across the entire study period (2002–2008). The proportion of neighborhoods predicted to be suitable showed a positive association with dengue case rates, whereas the vector-focused Bretau index had no relationship to case rates. As a consequence, niche models appear to offer a superior option for predictive evaluation of dengue transmission risk and anticipating the potential for outbreaks.
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Vol. 37 • No. 1