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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019 Nov 7;13(11):e0007878. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0007878. [Epub ahead of print]

Correlation of the basic reproduction number (R0) and eco-environmental variables in Colombian municipalities with chikungunya outbreaks during 2014-2016.

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Programa de Estudio de Control de Enfermedades Tropicales (PECET), Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín, Colombia.
Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, United States of America.


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) emerged in Colombia in 2014 into a population presumed fully susceptible. This resulted in a quick and intense spread across Colombia, resulting in an epidemic that affected an estimated 450,000 people. The reported Colombian cases accounted for over 49% of all the cases reported to the PAHO. Eco-environmental factors are known to be associated with the spread of arboviruses such as CHIKV, and likely contribute to the differences in transmission profiles that were observed across several municipalities. To determine the association of eco-environmental factors and CHIKV, the basic reproduction number (R0) in 85 municipalities, which accounted for 65.6% of reported CHIKV cases in Colombia, was estimated. Estimates of R0 ranged from 1 to 9, where over 76% of municipalities had R0 values between 1 and 2. When we looked at the distribution of R0, the cumulative proportions were 20% with R0>2, 14% with R0>3, and 9% with R0>4. Next, we determined that there were different patterns of correlation between environmental and/or ecological variables and R0 when we considered different R0 lower-thresholds. Broadly, we found that temperature-related variables are significantly and positively correlated to R0 regardless of the lower threshold, while other variables like duration of outbreak and size of the urban area are inversely related to R0. Specifically, we conclude that high values of temperature-related variables where R0 > 1 will result in a fast growth of cases in a shorter time period (with faster cessation of outbreak transmission) but will result overall in a fewer total cases compared to outbreak areas (R0 > 1, but classified as lower). Thus, in the absence of vector control, a less explosive outbreak may be more advantageous for the virus in terms of transmission.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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