A habitat-based model for the spread of hantavirus between reservoir and spillover species

Linda J.S. Allen, Curtis L. Wesley, Robert D. Owen, Douglas G. Goodin, David Koch, Colleen B. Jonsson, Yong Kyu Chu, J. M. Shawn Hutchinson, Robert L. Paige

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25 Scopus citations


New habitat-based models for spread of hantavirus are developed which account for interspecies interaction. Existing habitat-based models do not consider interspecies pathogen transmission, a primary route for emergence of new infectious diseases and reservoirs in wildlife and man. The modeling of interspecies transmission has the potential to provide more accurate predictions of disease persistence and emergence dynamics. The new models are motivated by our recent work on hantavirus in rodent communities in Paraguay. Our Paraguayan data illustrate the spatial and temporal overlaps among rodent species, one of which is the reservoir species for Jabora virus and others which are spillover species. Disease transmission occurs when their habitats overlap. Two mathematical models, a system of ordinary differential equations (ODE) and a continuous-time Markov chain (CTMC) model, are developed for spread of hantavirus between a reservoir and a spillover species. Analysis of a special case of the ODE model provides an explicit expression for the basic reproduction number, R0, such that if R0 < 1, then the pathogen does not persist in either population but if R0 > 1, pathogen outbreaks or persistence may occur. Numerical simulations of the CTMC model display sporadic disease incidence, a new behavior of our habitat-based model, not present in other models, but which is a prominent feature of the seroprevalence data from Paraguay. Environmental changes that result in greater habitat overlap result in more encounters among various species that may lead to pathogen outbreaks and pathogen establishment in a new host.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)510-522
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 21 2009


  • Basic reproduction number
  • Hantavirus
  • Interspecies pathogen transmission


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