Mapping Disease Transmission Risk of Nipah Virus in South and Southeast Asia
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Since 1998, Nipah virus (NiV) (genus: Henipavirus; family: Paramyxoviridae), an often-fatal and highly virulent zoonotic pathogen, has caused sporadic outbreak events. Fruit bats from the genus Pteropus are the wildlife reservoirs and have a broad distribution throughout South and Southeast Asia, and East Africa. Understanding the disease biogeography of NiV is critical to comprehending the potential geographic distribution of this dangerous zoonosis. This study implemented the R packages ENMeval and BIOMOD2 as a means of modeling regional disease transmission risk and additionally measured niche similarity between the reservoir Pteropus and the ecological characteristics of outbreak localities with the Schoener’s D index and I statistic. Results indicate a relatively high degree of niche overlap between models in geographic and environmental space (D statistic, 0.64; and I statistic, 0.89), and a potential geographic distribution encompassing 19% (2,963,178 km2 ) of South and Southeast Asia. This study should contribute to current and future efforts to understand the critical ecological contributors and geography of NiV. Furthermore, this study can be used as a geospatial guide to identify areas of high disease transmission risk and to inform national public health surveillance programs.