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An Integrative Eco-Epidemiological Analysis of West Nile Virus Transmission

Tran, Annelise, L’Ambert, Grégory, Balança, Gilles, Pradier, Sophie, Grosbois, Vladimir, Balenghien, Thomas, Baldet, Thierry, Lecollinet, Sylvie, Leblond, Agnès, Gaidet-Drapier, Nicolas
EcoHealth 2017 v.14 no.3 pp. 474-489
Culex, West Nile virus, data collection, horses, hosts, humans, insect vectors, migratory birds, seroprevalence, vegetation types, viral antibodies, virus transmission, viruses, wild birds, zoonoses, France
West Nile disease, caused by the West Nile virus (WNV), is a mosquito-borne zoonotic disease affecting humans and horses that involves wild birds as amplifying hosts. The mechanisms of WNV transmission remain unclear in Europe where the occurrence of outbreaks has dramatically increased in recent years. We used a dataset on the competence, distribution, abundance, diversity and dispersal of wild bird hosts and mosquito vectors to test alternative hypotheses concerning the transmission of WNV in Southern France. We modelled the successive processes of introduction, amplification, dispersal and spillover of WNV to incidental hosts based on host–vector contact rates on various land cover types and over four seasons. We evaluated the relative importance of the mechanisms tested using two independent serological datasets of WNV antibodies collected in wild birds and horses. We found that the same transmission processes (seasonal virus introduction by migratory birds, Culex modestus mosquitoes as amplifying vectors, heterogeneity in avian host competence, absence of ‘dilution effect’) best explain the spatial variations in WNV seroprevalence in the two serological datasets. Our results provide new insights on the pathways of WNV introduction, amplification and spillover and the contribution of bird and mosquito species to WNV transmission in Southern France.