University of Southampton
Dr. Zhuojie Huang
W235A Millennium Science Complex
Center for Infectious Diseases Dynamics
State College, PA
Throughout history the opening of travel and trade routes between countries has been accompanied by the spread of microbes and their vectors (McNeill, 1976; Tatem et al., 2006c). Modern transport facilitates the movement of diseases and their vectors farther and faster than ever before, and its continued expansion threatens to accelerate further the emergence of insect‐borne diseases in new locations (Jones et al., 2008).While substantial research and resources have been directed towards documenting the emergence and spread of insect‐borne diseases, the routes over which insect disease vectors and the diseases they carry have received relatively little attention until recently (Puth and Post 2005; Tatem, 2009; Tatem and Hay, 2007; Tatem et al., 2006a; Tatem et al.,2006b, c, d). Moreover, this research and the methods developed have yet to cross over into industry usage and provide support for strategic decision making.
The Vector-borne disease airport importation risk (VBD-Air) tool aims to help better define the roles of airports and airlines in the transmission and spread of insect‐borne human diseases. It represents a flexible tool that combines multiple geospatial datasets to inform on the relative risks between differing airports, flight routes, times of year, diseases, and their vectors, in promoting the movement of passengers infected by vector-borne diseases and the vectors that spread these diseases. These datasets include global disease risk maps, vector presence maps, air travel network and capacity information, and global climatic datasets. The calculations and outputs of the tool rely on the assumptions that the levels of imported vector and vector-borne disease risk via air travel are related to (i) the presence of flight routes connecting to endemic regions (promoting the movement of people, pathogens and vectors), (ii) the level of traffic between origin and destination (increasing the probability of infected passenger and vector carriage), and (iii) the monthly climatic similarity between origin and destination (since vector activity is required at both locations to firstly provide infected passengers, and secondly prompt onward transmission or vector establishment at the selected destination). These all represent first-step risk assessments based on available global data, and many additional factors for which data is sparse, or which are locally-specific are not included here. At present, the tool focuses on four vector-borne diseases that are the cause of high burden and imported case numbers globally, or that have been readily spread by air travel previously: malaria, dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.
Further details can be found in the user guide.