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Why did Bluetongue spread the way it did? Environmental factors influencing the velocity of Bluetongue Virus serotype 8 epizootic wave in France

Pioz M., Guis H., Crespin L., Gay E., Calavas D., Durand B., Abrial D., Ducrot C.. 2012. PloS One, 7 (8) : 14 p..

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043360

Understanding where and how fast an infectious disease will spread during an epidemic is critical for its control. However, the task is a challenging one as numerous factors may interact and drive the spread of a disease, specifically when vector-borne diseases are involved. We advocate the use of simultaneous autoregressive models to identify environmental features that significantly impact the velocity of disease spread. We illustrate this approach by exploring several environmental factors influencing the velocity of bluetongue (BT) spread in France during the 2007-2008 epizootic wave to determine which ones were the most important drivers. We used velocities of BT spread estimated in 4,495 municipalities and tested sixteen covariates defining five thematic groups of related variables: elevation, meteorological-related variables, landscape-related variables, host availability, and vaccination. We found that ecological factors associated with vector abundance and activity (elevation and meteorological-related variables), as well as with host availability, were important drivers of the spread of the disease. Specifically, the disease spread more slowly in areas with high elevation and when heavy rainfall associated with extreme temperature events occurred one or two months prior to the first clinical case. Moreover, the density of dairy cattle was correlated negatively with the velocity of BT spread. These findings add substantially to our understanding of BT spread in a temperate climate. Finally, the approach presented in this paper can be used with other infectious diseases, and provides a powerful tool to identify environmental features driving the velocity of disease spread. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : virus bluetongue; fièvre catarrhale du mouton; transmission des maladies; Épidémiologie; bétail; bovin; modèle mathématique; méthode d'élevage; facteur du milieu; facteur climatique; altitude; climat tempéré; france

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