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A comparative analysis of three vector-borne diseases across Australia using seasonal and meteorological models.

ABSTRACT

Ross River virus (RRV), Barmah Forest virus (BFV), and dengue are three common mosquito-borne diseases in Australia that display notable seasonal patterns. Although all three diseases have been modeled on localized scales, no previous study has used harmonic models to compare seasonality of mosquito-borne diseases on a continent-wide scale. We fit Poisson harmonic regression models to surveillance data on RRV, BFV, and dengue (from 1993, 1995 and 1991, respectively, through 2015) incorporating seasonal, trend, and climate (temperature and rainfall) parameters. The models captured an average of 50-65% variability of the data. Disease incidence for all three diseases generally peaked in January or February, but peak timing was most variable for dengue. The most significant predictor parameters were trend and inter-annual periodicity for BFV, intra-annual periodicity for RRV, and trend for dengue. We found that a Temperature Suitability Index (TSI), designed to reclassify climate data relative to optimal conditions for vector establishment, could be applied to this context. Finally, we extrapolated our models to estimate the impact of a false-positive BFV epidemic in 2013. Creating these models and comparing variations in periodicities may provide insight into historical outbreaks as well as future patterns of mosquito-borne diseases.