[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Although bubonic plague is an endemic zoonosis in many countries around the world, the factors responsible for the persistence of this highly virulent disease remain poorly known. Classically, the endemic persistence of plague is suspected to be due to the coexistence of plague resistant and plague susceptible rodents in natural foci, and/or to a metapopulation structure of reservoirs. Here, we test separately the effect of each of these factors on the long-term persistence of plague. We analyse the dynamics and equilibria of a model of plague propagation, consistent with plague ecology in Madagascar, a major focus where this disease is endemic since the 1920s in central highlands. By combining deterministic and stochastic analyses of this model, and including sensitivity analyses, we show that (i) endemicity is favoured by intermediate host population sizes, (ii) in large host populations, the presence of resistant rats is sufficient to explain long-term persistence of plague, and (iii) the metapopulation structure of susceptible host populations alone can also account for plague endemicity, thanks to both subdivision and the subsequent reduction in the size of subpopulations, and extinction-recolonization dynamics of the disease. In the light of these results, we suggest scenarios to explain the localized presence of plague in Madagascar.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The environmental conditions experienced by hosts are known to affect their mean parasite transmission potential. How different conditions may affect the variance of transmission potential has received less attention, but is an important question for disease management, especially if specific ecological contexts are more likely to foster a few extremely infectious hosts. Using the obligate-killing bacterium Pasteuria ramosa and its crustacean host Daphnia magna, we analysed how host nutrition affected the variance of individual parasite loads, and, therefore, transmission potential. Under low food, individual parasite loads showed similar mean and variance, following a Poisson distribution. By contrast, among well-nourished hosts, parasite loads were right-skewed and overdispersed, following a negative binomial distribution. Abundant food may, therefore, yield individuals causing potentially more transmission than the population average. Measuring both the mean and variance of individual parasite loads in controlled experimental infections may offer a useful way of revealing risk factors for potential highly infectious hosts.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Theory predicts that selection for pathogen virulence and horizontal transmission is highest at the onset of an epidemic but decreases thereafter, as the epidemic depletes the pool of susceptible hosts. We tested this prediction by tracking the competition between the latent bacteriophage λ and its virulent mutant λcI857 throughout experimental epidemics taking place in continuous cultures of Escherichia coli. As expected, the virulent λcI857 is strongly favored in the early stage of the epidemic, but loses competition with the latent virus as prevalence increases. We show that the observed transient selection for virulence and horizontal transmission can be fully explained within the framework of evolutionary epidemiology theory. This experimental validation of our predictions is a key step towards a predictive theory for the evolution of virulence in emerging infectious diseases.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adaptation depends greatly on the distribution of mutation fitness effects (DMFE), but the phenotypic expression of mutations is often environment dependent. The environments faced by multihost pathogens are mostly governed by their hosts and therefore measuring the DMFE on multiple hosts can inform on the likelihood of short-term establishment and longer term adaptation of emerging pathogens. We explored this by measuring the growth rate of 36 mutants of the lytic bacteriophage φX174 on two host backgrounds, Escherichia coli (EcC) and Salmonella typhimurium (StGal). The DMFE showed higher mean and variance on EcC than on StGal. Most mutations were either deleterious or neutral on both hosts, but a greater proportion of mutations were deleterious on StGal. We identified two mutations with beneficial fitness effects on EcC that were neutral on StGal. Host-specific differences in fitness were associated with particular functional classes of genes involved in the initial stages of infection in accordance with previous studies of host specificity. Overall, there was a positive correlation between the effects of mutations on each host, suggesting that most new mutations will have general, rather than host-specific fitness effects. We consider these results in light of simple fitness landscape models of adaptation and discuss the relevance of context-dependent DMFE for multihost pathogens.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Prediction and control of the geographical spread of emerging pathogens has become a central public health issue. Because these infectious diseases are by definition novel, there are few data to characterize their dynamics. One possible solution to this problem is to apply lessons learnt from analyses of historical data on familiar and epidemiologically similar pathogens. However, the portability of the spatial ecology of an infectious disease in a different epoch to other infections remains unexamined. Here, we study this issue by taking advantage of the recent re-emergence of pertussis in the United States to compare its spatial transmission dynamics throughout the 1950s with the past decade. We report 4-year waves, sweeping across the continent in the 1950s. These waves are shown to emanate from highly synchronous foci in the northwest and northeast coasts. In contrast, the recent resurgence of the disease is characterized by 5.5-year epidemics with no particular spatial structure. We interpret this to be the result of dramatic changes in patterns of human movement over the second half of the last century, together with changing age distribution of pertussis. We conclude that extrapolation regarding the spatial spread of contemporaneous pathogens based on analyses of historical incidence may be potentially very misleading.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 09/2012; 279(1747):4574-81. · 5.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adaptation depends greatly on the distribution of mutation fitness effects (DMFE), but the phenotypic expression of mutations is often environment dependent. The environments faced by multihost pathogens are mostly governed by their hosts and therefore measuring the DMFE on multiple hosts can inform on the likelihood of short-term establishment and longer term adaptation of emerging pathogens. We explored this by measuring the growth rate of 36 mutants of the lytic bacteriophage φX174 on two host backgrounds, Escherichia coli (EcC) and Salmonella typhimurium (StGal). The DMFE showed higher mean and variance on EcC than
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Social scientists have suggested that cultural diversity in a nation leads to societal instability. However, societal instability may be affected not only by within-nation or alpha diversity, but also diversity between a nation and its neighbours or beta diversity. It is also necessary to distinguish different domains of diversity, namely linguistic, ethnic and religious, and to distinguish between the direct effects of diversity on societal instability, and effects that are mediated by economic conditions.
We assembled a large cross-national dataset with information on alpha and beta cultural diversity, economic conditions, and indices of societal instability. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the direct and indirect effects of cultural diversity on economics and societal stability. Results show that different types and domains of diversity have interacting effects. As previously documented, linguistic alpha diversity has a negative effect on economic performance, and we show that it is largely through this economic mechanism that it affects societal instability. For beta diversity, the higher the linguistic diversity among nations in a region, the less stable the nation. But, religious beta diversity has the opposite effect, reducing instability, particularly in the presence of high linguistic diversity.
Within-nation linguistic diversity is associated with reduced economic performance, which, in turn, increases societal instability. Nations which differ linguistically from their neighbors are also less stable. However, religious diversity between neighboring nations has the opposite effect, decreasing societal instability.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dynamical systems theory predicts that inherently oscillatory systems undergoing periodic forcings will exhibit resonance phenomena, which are characterized by qualitative dynamical consequences resulting from the amplification of small external perturbations. In this paper we use extensive numerical simulations to demonstrate that the periodic nature of pulse vaccination strategies can make disease dynamics resonate. We proceed step by step in order to tease apart the dynamical consequences of (i) the intrinsic nonlinearity of the host–pathogen system, (ii) the seasonal variation in transmission and (iii) the additional forcing caused by vaccinating in pulses. We document that the resonance phenomenon associated with pulse vaccination can have quantitative epidemiological implications and produce perverse effects such as an unexpected increase in the number of infectives as the vaccination frequency increases. Our findings emphasize the importance of carefully taking into account the dynamical properties of the disease when designing a pulse vaccination strategy.
Physica D Nonlinear Phenomena 11/2006; · 1.67 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Theoretical studies of wildlife population dynamics have proved insightful for sustainable management, where the principal aim is to maximize short-term yield, without risking population extinction. Surprisingly, infectious diseases have not been accounted for in harvest models, which is a major oversight because the consequences of parasites for host population dynamics are well-established. Here, we present a simple general model for a host species subject to density dependent reproduction and seasonal demography. We assume this host species is subject to infection by a strongly immunizing, directly transmitted pathogen. In this context, we show that the interaction between density dependent effects and harvesting can substantially increase both disease prevalence and the absolute number of infectious individuals. This effect clearly increases the risk of cross-species disease transmission into domestic and livestock populations. In addition, if the disease is associated with a risk of mortality, then the synergistic interaction between hunting and disease-induced death can increase the probability of host population extinction.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 09/2006; 273(1597):2025-34. · 5.68 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fourteen isolates of Rice yellow mottle virus (RYMV) were selected as representative of the genetic variability of the virus in Africa from a total set of 320 isolates serologically typed or partially sequenced. The 14 isolates were fully sequenced and analyzed together with two previously reported sequences. RYMV had a genomic organization similar to that of Cocksfoot mottle sobemovirus. The average nucleotide diversity among the 16 isolates of RYMV was 7%, and the maximum diversity between any two isolates was 10%. A strong conservative selection was apparent on both synonymous and nonsynonymous substitutions, through the amino acid replacement pattern, on the genome size, and through the limited number of indel events. Furthermore, there was a lack of positive selection on single amino acid sites and no evidence of recombination events. RYMV diversity had a pronounced and characteristic geographic structure. The branching order of the clades correlated with the geographic origin of the isolates along an east-to-west transect across Africa, and there was a marked decrease in nucleotide diversity moving westward across the continent. The insertion-deletion polymorphism was related to virus phylogeny. There was a partial phylogenetic incongruence between the coat protein gene and the rest of the genome. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that RYMV originated in East Africa and then dispersed and differentiated gradually from the east to the west of the continent.
Journal of Virology 05/2004; 78(7):3252-61. · 5.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Molecular adaptation, as characterized by the detection of positive selection, was quantified in a number of genes from different human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) group M subtypes, group O, and an HIV-2 subtype using the codon-based maximum-likelihood method of Yang and coworkers (Z. H. Yang, R. Nielsen, N. Goldman, and A. M. K. Pedersen, Genetics 155:431-449, 2000). The env gene was investigated further since it exhibited the strongest signal for positive selection compared to those of the other two major HIV genes (gag and pol). In order to investigate the pattern of adaptive evolution across env, the location and strength of positive selection in different HIV-1 sequence alignments was compared. The number of sites having a significant probability of being positively selected varied among these different alignment data sets, ranging from 25 in HIV-1 group M subtype A to 40 in HIV-1 group O. Strikingly, there was a significant tendency for positively selected sites to be located at the same position in different HIV-1 alignments, ranging from 10 to 16 shared sites for the group M intersubtype comparisons and from 6 to 8 for the group O to M comparisons, suggesting that all HIV-1 variants are subject to similar selective forces. As the host immune response is believed to be the dominant driving force of adaptive evolution in HIV, this result would suggest that the same sites are contributing to viral persistence in diverse HIV infections. Thus, the positions of the positively selected sites were investigated in reference to the inferred locations of different epitope types (antibody, T helper, and cytotoxic T lymphocytes) and the positions of N and O glycosylation sites. We found a significant tendency for positively selected sites to fall outside T-helper epitopes and for positively selected sites to be strongly associated with N glycosylation sites.
Journal of Virology 03/2004; 78(4):1962-70. · 5.08 Impact Factor