It is well known that individuals in the same community can be exposed to a highly variable number of mosquito bites. This heterogeneity in bite exposure has consequences for the control of vector-borne diseases because a few people may be contributing significantly to transmission. However, very few studies measure sources of heterogeneity in a way which is relevant to decision-making. We investigate the relationship between two classic measures of heterogeneity, spatial and individual, within the context of lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic mosquito-borne disease. Using infection and mosquito-bite data for five villages in Papua New Guinea, we measure biting characteristics to model what impact bed-nets have had on control of the disease. We combine this analysis with geospatial modelling to understand the spatial relationship between disease indicators and nightly mosquito bites. We found a weak association between biting and infection heterogeneity within villages. The introduction of bed-nets increased biting heterogeneity, but the reduction in mean biting more than compensated for this, by reducing prevalence closer to elimination thresholds. Nightly biting was explained by a spatial heterogeneity model, while parasite load was better explained by an individual heterogeneity model. Spatial and individual heterogeneity are qualitatively different with profoundly different policy implications.

Original publication

DOI

10.1098/rspb.2017.2253

Type

Journal article

Journal

Proceedings. Biological sciences

Publication Date

01/2018

Volume

285

Addresses

School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK m.irvine@math.ubc.ca.