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Epidemic host community contribution to mosquito-borne disease transmission: Ross River virus


Koolhof, IS and Carver, S, Epidemic host community contribution to mosquito-borne disease transmission: Ross River virus, Epidemiology and Infection, 145, (4) pp. 656-666. ISSN 0950-2688 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© Cambridge University Press 2016

DOI: doi:10.1017/S0950268816002739


Most vector-borne diseases infect multiple host species, but disentangling the relative importance of different host species to transmission can be complex. Here we study how host species’ abundance and competence (duration and titre of parasitaemia) influence host importance during epidemic scenarios. We evaluate this theory using Ross River virus (RRV, family Togaviridae, genus Alphavirus), a multi-host mosquito-borne disease with significant human health impacts across Australia and Papua New Guinea. We used host contribution models to find the importance of key hosts (possums, wallabies, kangaroos, horses, humans) in typical mammal communities around five Australian epidemic centres. We found humans and possums contributed most to epidemic RRV transmission, owing to their high abundances, generally followed by macropods. This supports humans as spillover hosts, and that human–mosquito and possum–mosquito transmission is predominant during epidemics. Sensitivity analyses indicate these findings to be robust across epidemic centres. We emphasize the importance of considering abundance and competence in identifying key hosts (during epidemics in this case), and that competence alone is inadequate. Knowledge of host importance in disease transmission may help to equip health agencies to bring about greater effectiveness of disease mitigation strategies.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:arboviruses, transmission, vector-borne disease, vectors, Ross river virus, disease ecology, epidemiology, host
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Evolutionary biology
Research Field:Host-parasite interactions
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Disease distribution and transmission (incl. surveillance and response)
UTAS Author:Koolhof, IS (Mr Iain Koolhof)
UTAS Author:Carver, S (Associate Professor Scott Carver)
ID Code:113227
Year Published:2017 (online first 2016)
Web of Science® Times Cited:21
Deposited By:Zoology
Deposited On:2016-12-15
Last Modified:2022-06-16

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