Vector-borne diseases

Vector-borne diseases (VBDs) include some of the most dynamic threats to global human health. It is a field that has seen great success stories in the elimination of some neglected tropical diseases (e.g. lymphatic filariasis and trachoma) and challenges in sustaining progress in disease control (e.g. malaria) and building resilience to emerging and re-emerging pathogens (e.g. dengue, Zika and yellow fever).

The theme that links all VBDs is a high degree of heterogeneity introduced by complex interactions between host, pathogen, vector and the environment in which they co-habit. This presents a series of unique and specific challenges for modelling of VBDs. In particular, capturing heterogeneities in space and over time. The impact of environmental change and the way in which different interventions affect transmission requires careful consideration. VBD dynamics rarely comply with classical susceptible-infected-recovered (SIR)-type mechanistic modelling approach and require a more bespoke model formulation.

Our current research spans a range of scales of VBD dynamics and diseases:

Global:

1. Global mapping and burden estimation of dengue, chikungunya and Zika
2. Assessing the impact of global environmental change on VBDs
3. Predicting the potential for global geographic spread of arboviruses

National:

4. Forecasting of dengue epidemics in South East Asia and the Caribbean, including the assessment of control programmes
5. Understanding the relative role of environmental change and control interventions on malaria risk in South America

Population level:

6. Inferring cross reactivity and transmission dynamics of dengue and Zika using seroprevalence surveys in Fiji

Local:

7. Disentangling the importance of mosquito biting behaviour for malaria transmission

People

Rachel Lowe (theme co-ordinator), Oliver Brady (theme co-ordinator), Laith Yakob, Adam Kucharski, Alasdair Henderson, Hannah Meredith, Kath O’Reilly, Sebastian Funk

Publications

Bhatt, S., Gething, P. W., Brady, O. J., Messina, J. P., Farlow, A. W., Moyes, C. L., … & Myers, M. F. (2013). The global distribution and burden of dengue. Nature, 496(7446), 504.

Bogoch, I. I., Brady, O. J., Kraemer, M. U., German, M., Creatore, M. I., Kulkarni, M. A., … & Watts, A. (2016). Anticipating the international spread of Zika virus from Brazil. The Lancet, 387(10016), 335-336.

S. Funk, A. J. Kucharski, A. Camacho, R. M. Eggo, L. Yakob, L. M. Murray, W. J. Edmunds. Comparative Analysis of Dengue and Zika Outbreaks Reveals Differences by Setting and Virus. PLoS Negl Trop Dis (2016) 10(12):1-16.

S. Funk, H. Nishiura, H. Heesterbeek, W. J. Edmunds, F. Checchi. Identifying transmission cycles at the human-animal interface: the role of animal reservoirs in maintaining gambiense human african trypanosomiasis. PLoS Comput Biol (2013) 9(1):e1002855.

Lowe R, Barcellos C, Brasil P, Cruz OG, Honório NA, Kuper H, Sá Carvalho M (2018). The Zika Virus Epidemic in Brazil: From Discovery to Future Implications. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(1), 96 (doi:10.3390/ijerph15010096).

Lowe R, Stewart-Ibarra AM, Petrova D, García-Díez M, Borbor-Cordova MJ, Mejía R, Regato M, Rodó X. (2017). Climate services for health: predicting the evolution of the 2016 dengue season in Machala, Ecuador. Lancet Planetary Health,1(4): e142-e151 (doi:10.1016/S2542-5196(17)30064-5).

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