Browsing by Subject "Vector-borne disease"

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  • Uusitalo, Ruut Jaael; Siljander, Mika; Culverwell, Christine Lorna; Mutai, Noah; Forbes, Kristian Michael; Vapalahti, Olli; Pellikka, Petri Kauko Emil (2019)
    Mosquitoes are vectors for numerous pathogens, which are collectively responsible for millions of human deaths each year. As such, it is vital to be able to accurately predict their distributions, particularly in areas where species composition is unknown. Species distribution modeling was used to determine the relationship between environmental, anthropogenic and distance factors on the occurrence of two mosquito genera, Culex Linnaeus and Stegomyia Theobald (syn. Aedes), in the Taita Hills, southeastern Kenya. This study aims to test whether any of the statistical prediction models produced by the Biomod2 package in R can reliably estimate the distributions of mosquitoes in these genera in the Taita Hills; and to examine which factors best explain their presence. Mosquito collections were acquired from 122 locations between January–March 2016 along transects throughout the Taita Hills. Environmental-, anthropogenic- and distance-based geospatial data were acquired from the Taita Hills geo-database, satellite- and aerial imagery and processed in GIS software. The Biomod2 package in R, intended for ensemble forecasting of species distributions, was used to generate predictive models. Slope, human population density, normalized difference vegetation index, distance to roads and elevation best estimated Culex distributions by a generalized additive model with an area under the curve (AUC) value of 0.791. Mean radiation, human population density, normalized difference vegetation index, distance to roads and mean temperature resulted in the highest AUC (0.708) value in a random forest model for Stegomyia distributions. We conclude that in the process towards more detailed species-level maps, with our study results, general assumptions can be made about the distribution areas of Culex and Stegomyia mosquitoes in the Taita Hills and the factors which influence their distribution.
  • Strona, Giovanni; Castellano, Claudio; Fattorini, Simone; Ponti, Luigi; Gutierrez, Andrew Paul; Beck, Pieter S.A. (2020)
    Outbreaks of a plant disease in a landscape can be meaningfully modelled using networks with nodes representing individual crop-fields, and edges representing potential infection pathways between them. Their spatial structure, which resembles that of a regular lattice, makes such networks fairly robust against epidemics. Yet, it is well-known how the addition of a few shortcuts can turn robust regular lattices into vulnerable ‘small world’ networks. Although the relevance of this phenomenon has been shown theoretically for networks with nodes corresponding to individual host plants, its real-world implications at a larger scale (i.e. in networks with nodes representing crop fields or other plantations) remain elusive. Focusing on realistic spatial networks connecting olive orchards in Andalusia (Southern Spain), the world’s leading olive producer, we show how even very small probabilities of long distance dispersal of infectious vectors result in a small-world effect that dramatically exacerbates a hypothetical outbreak of a disease targeting olive trees (loosely modelled on known epidemiological information on the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, an important emerging threat for European agriculture). More specifically, we found that the probability of long distance vector dispersal has a disproportionately larger effect on epidemic dynamics compared to pathogen’s intrinsic infectivity, increasing total infected area by up to one order of magnitude (in the absence of quarantine). Furthermore, even a very small probability of long distance dispersal increased the effort needed to halt a hypothetical outbreak through quarantine by about 50% in respect to scenarios modelling local/short distance pathogen’s dispersal only. This highlights how identifying (and disrupting) long distance dispersal processes may be more efficacious to contain a plant disease epidemic than surveillance and intervention concentrated on local scale transmission processes.