Reviewing the ecological evidence base for management of emerging tropical zoonoses: Kyasanur Forest Disease in India as a case study

Burthe, Sarah J. ORCID:; Schafer, Stefanie M. ORCID:; Asaaga, Festus A. ORCID:; Balakrishnan, Natrajan; Chanda, Mohammed Mudasssar; Darshan, Narayanaswamy; Hoti, Subhash L.; Kiran, Shivani K.; Seshadri, Tanya; Srinivas, Prashanth N.; Vanak, Abi T.; Purse, Bethan V. ORCID: 2021 Reviewing the ecological evidence base for management of emerging tropical zoonoses: Kyasanur Forest Disease in India as a case study. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 15 (4), e0009243. 26, pp.

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Zoonoses disproportionately affect tropical communities and are associated with human modification and use of ecosystems. Effective management is hampered by poor ecological understanding of disease transmission and often focuses on human vaccination or treatment. Better ecological understanding of multi-vector and multi-host transmission, social and environmental factors altering human exposure, might enable a broader suite of management options. Options may include “ecological interventions” that target vectors or hosts and require good knowledge of underlying transmission processes, which may be more effective, economical, and long lasting than conventional approaches. New frameworks identify the hierarchical series of barriers that a pathogen needs to overcome before human spillover occurs and demonstrate how ecological interventions may strengthen these barriers and complement human-focused disease control. We extend these frameworks for vector-borne zoonoses, focusing on Kyasanur Forest Disease Virus (KFDV), a tick-borne, neglected zoonosis affecting poor forest communities in India, involving complex communities of tick and host species. We identify the hierarchical barriers to pathogen transmission targeted by existing management. We show that existing interventions mainly focus on human barriers (via personal protection and vaccination) or at barriers relating to Kyasanur Forest Disease (KFD) vectors (tick control on cattle and at the sites of host (monkey) deaths). We review the validity of existing management guidance for KFD through literature review and interviews with disease managers. Efficacy of interventions was difficult to quantify due to poor empirical understanding of KFDV–vector–host ecology, particularly the role of cattle and monkeys in the disease transmission cycle. Cattle are hypothesised to amplify tick populations. Monkeys may act as sentinels of human infection or are hypothesised to act as amplifying hosts for KFDV, but the spatial scale of risk arising from ticks infected via monkeys versus small mammal reservoirs is unclear. We identified 19 urgent research priorities for refinement of current management strategies or development of ecological interventions targeting vectors and host barriers to prevent disease spillover in the future.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1935-2735
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 09 Apr 2021 14:34 +0 (UTC)

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