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  1. Abstract Analyses of transient dynamics are critical to understanding infectious disease transmission and persistence. Identifying and predicting transients across scales, from within-host to community-level patterns, plays an important role in combating ongoing epidemics and mitigating the risk of future outbreaks. Moreover, greater emphases on non-asymptotic processes will enable timely evaluations of wildlife and human diseases and lead to improved surveillance efforts, preventive responses, and intervention strategies. Here, we explore the contributions of transient analyses in recent models spanning the fields of epidemiology, movement ecology, and parasitology. In addition to their roles in predicting epidemic patterns and endemic outbreaks, we explore transients in the contexts of pathogen transmission, resistance, and avoidance at various scales of the ecological hierarchy. Examples illustrate how (i) transient movement dynamics at the individual host level can modify opportunities for transmission events over time; (ii) within-host energetic processes often lead to transient dynamics in immunity, pathogen load, and transmission potential; (iii) transient connectivity between discrete populations in response to environmental factors and outbreak dynamics can affect disease spread across spatial networks; and (iv) increasing species richness in a community can provide transient protection to individuals against infection. Ultimately, we suggest that transient analyses offer deeper insights and raisemore »new, interdisciplinary questions for disease research, consequently broadening the applications of dynamical models for outbreak preparedness and management.« less
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  3. Secor, W. Evan (Ed.)
    Schistosome parasites infect more than 200 million people annually, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, where people may be co-infected with more than one species of the parasite. Infection risk for any single species is determined, in part, by the distribution of its obligate intermediate host snail. As the World Health Organization reprioritizes snail control to reduce the global burden of schistosomiasis, there is renewed importance in knowing when and where to target those efforts, which could vary by schistosome species. This study estimates factors associated with schistosomiasis risk in 16 villages located in the Senegal River Basin, a region hyperendemic for Schistosoma haematobium and S . mansoni . We first analyzed the spatial distributions of the two schistosomes’ intermediate host snails ( Bulinus spp. and Biomphalaria pfeifferi , respectively) at village water access sites. Then, we separately evaluated the relationships between human S . haematobium and S . mansoni infections and (i) the area of remotely-sensed snail habitat across spatial extents ranging from 1 to 120 m from shorelines, and (ii) water access site size and shape characteristics. We compared the influence of snail habitat across spatial extents because, while snail sampling is traditionally done near shorelines, we hypothesized that snailsmore »further from shore also contribute to infection risk. We found that, controlling for demographic variables, human risk for S . haematobium infection was positively correlated with snail habitat when snail habitat was measured over a much greater radius from shore (45 m to 120 m) than usual. S . haematobium risk was also associated with large, open water access sites. However, S . mansoni infection risk was associated with small, sheltered water access sites, and was not positively correlated with snail habitat at any spatial sampling radius. Our findings highlight the need to consider different ecological and environmental factors driving the transmission of each schistosome species in co-endemic landscapes.« less
  4. null (Ed.)
  5. Schistosomiasis, or “snail fever”, is a parasitic disease affecting over 200 million people worldwide. People become infected when exposed to water containing particular species of freshwater snails. Habitats for such snails can be mapped using lightweight, inexpensive and field-deployable consumer-grade Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones. Drones can obtain imagery in remote areas with poor satellite imagery. An unexpected outcome of using drones is public engagement. Whereas sampling snails exposes field technicians to infection risk and might disturb locals who are also using the water site, drones are novel and fun to watch, attracting crowds that can be educated about the infection risk.