Climate Change, Population Immunity, and Hyperendemicity in the Transmission Threshold of Dengue
It has been suggested that the probability of dengue epidemics could increase because of climate change. The probability of epidemics is most commonly evaluated by the basic reproductive number (R0), and in mosquito-borne diseases, mosquito density (the number of female mosquitoes per person [MPP]) is the critical determinant of the R0 value. In dengue-endemic areas, 4 different serotypes of dengue virus coexist–a state known as hyperendemicity–and a certain proportion of the population is immune to one or more of these serotypes. Nevertheless, these factors are not included in the calculation of R0. We aimed to investigate the effects of temperature change, population immunity, and hyperendemicity on the threshold MPP that triggers an epidemic. We designed a mathematical model of dengue transmission dynamics. An epidemic was defined as a 10% increase in seroprevalence in a year, and the MPP that triggered an epidemic was defined as the threshold MPP. Simulations were conducted in Singapore based on the recorded temperatures from 1980 to 2009 The threshold MPP was estimated with the effect of (1) temperature only; (2) temperature and fluctuation of population immunity; and (3) temperature, fluctuation of immunity, and hyperendemicity. When only the effect of temperature was considered, the threshold MPP was estimated to be 0.53 in the 1980s and 0.46 in the 2000s, a decrease of 13.2%. When the fluctuation of population immunity and hyperendemicity were considered in the model, the threshold MPP decreased by 38.7%, from 0.93 to 0.57, from the 1980s to the 2000s. The threshold MPP was underestimated if population immunity was not considered and overestimated if hyperendemicity was not included in the simulations. In addition to temperature, these factors are particularly important when quantifying the threshold MPP for the purpose of setting goals for vector control in dengue-endemic areas.