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J Theor Biol. 2008 Nov 7;255(1):69-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2008.08.007. Epub 2008 Aug 13.

Adaptive modeling of viral diseases in bats with a focus on rabies.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee, 569 Dabney Hall, 1416 Circle Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-1610, USA.


Many emerging and reemerging viruses, such as rabies, SARS, Marburg, and Ebola have bat populations as disease reservoirs. Understanding the spillover from bats to humans and other animals, and the associated health risks requires an analysis of the disease dynamics in bat populations. Traditional compartmental epizootic models, which are relatively easy to implement and analyze, usually impose unrealistic aggregation assumptions about disease-related structure and depend on parameters that frequently are not measurable in field conditions. We propose a novel combination of computational and adaptive modeling approaches that address the maintenance of emerging diseases in bat colonies through individual (intra-host) models of the response of the host to a viral challenge. The dynamics of the individual models are used to define survival, susceptibility and transmission conditions relevant to epizootics as well as to develop and parametrize models of the disease evolution into uniform and diverse populations. Applications of the proposed approach to modeling the effects of immunological heterogeneity on the dynamics of bat rabies are presented.

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