The drivers of West Nile virus human illness in the Chicago, Illinois, USA area: Fine scale dynamic effects of weather, mosquito infection, social, and biological conditions

Surendra Karki, William M. Brown, John Uelmen, Marilyn O’Hara Ruiz, Rebecca Lee Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

West Nile virus (WNV) has consistently been reported to be associated with human cases of illness in the region near Chicago, Illinois. However, the number of reported cases of human illness varies across years, with intermittent outbreaks. Several dynamic factors, including temperature, rainfall, and infection status of vector mosquito populations, are responsible for much of these observed variations. However, local landscape structure and human demographic characteristics also play a key role. The geographic and temporal scales used to analyze such complex data affect the observed associations. Here, we used spatial and statistical modeling approaches to investigate the factors that drive the outcome of WNV human illness on fine temporal and spatial scales. Our approach included multilevel modeling of long-term weekly data from 2005 to 2016, with weekly measures of mosquito infection, human illness and weather combined with more stable landscape and demographic factors on the geographical scale of 1000m hexagons. We found that hot weather conditions, warm winters, and higher MIR in earlier weeks increased the probability of an area of having a WNV human case. Higher population and the proportion of urban light intensity in an area also increased the probability of observing a WNV human case. A higher proportion of open water sources, percentage of grass land, deciduous forests, and housing built post 1990 decreased the probability of having a WNV case. Additionally, we found that cumulative positive mosquito pools up to 31 weeks can strongly predict the total annual human WNV cases in the Chicago region. This study helped us to improve our understanding of the fine-scale drivers of spatiotemporal variability of human WNV cases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0227160
JournalPloS one
Volume15
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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