Bayesian estimation of lassa virus epidemiological parameters: Implications for spillover prevention using wildlife vaccination

Scott L. Nuismer, Christopher H. Remien, Andrew J. Basinski, Tanner Varrelman, Nathan Layman, Kyle Rosenke, Brian Bird, Michael Jarvis, Peter Barry, Patrick W. Hanley, Elisabeth Fichet-Calvet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Lassa virus is a significant burden on human health throughout its endemic region in West Africa, with most human infections the result of spillover from the primary rodent reservoir of the virus, the natal multimammate mouse, M. natalensis. Here we develop a Bayesian methodology for estimating epidemiological parameters of Lassa virus within its rodent reservoir and for generating probabilistic predictions for the efficacy of rodent vaccination programs. Our approach uses Approximate Bayesian Computation (ABC) to integrate mechanistic mathematical models, remotely-sensed precipitation data, and Lassa virus surveillance data from rodent populations. Using simulated data, we show that our method accurately estimates key model parameters, even when surveillance data are available from only a rel-atively small number of points in space and time. Applying our method to previously pub-lished data from two villages in Guinea estimates the time-averaged R0 of Lassa virus to be 1.74 and 1.54 for rodent populations in the villages of Bantou and Tanganya, respectively. Using the posterior distribution for model parameters derived from these Guinean popula-tions, we evaluate the likely efficacy of vaccination programs relying on distribution of vac-cine-laced baits. Our results demonstrate that effective and durable reductions in the risk of Lassa virus spillover into the human population will require repeated distribution of large quantities of vaccine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0007920
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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