Potential Risk of Dengue and Chikungunya Outbreaks in Northern Italy Based on a Population Model of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae).


The rapid invasion and spread of Aedes albopictus (Skuse, 1894) within new continents and climatic ranges has created favorable conditions for the emergence of tropical arboviral diseases in the invaded areas. We used mosquito abundance data from 2014 collected across ten sites in northern Italy to calibrate a population model for Aedes albopictus and estimate the potential of imported human cases of chikungunya or dengue to generate the condition for their autochthonous transmission in the absence of control interventions. The model captured intra-year seasonality and heterogeneity across sites in mosquito abundance, based on local temperature patterns and the estimated site-specific mosquito habitat suitability. A robust negative correlation was found between the latter and local late spring precipitations, indicating a possible washout effect on larval breeding sites. The model predicts a significant risk of chikungunya outbreaks in most sites if a case is imported between the beginning of summer and up to mid-November, with an average outbreak probability between 4.9% and 25%, depending on the site. A lower risk is predicted for dengue, with an average probability between 4.2% and 10.8% for cases imported between mid-July and mid-September. This study shows the importance of an integrated entomological and medical surveillance for the evaluation of arboviral disease risk, which is a precondition for designing cost-effective vector control programs.

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