Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV) is an enzootic virus that causes extensive morbidity and mortality in domestic ruminants in Africa, and it has shown the potential to invade other areas such as the Arabian Peninsula. Here, we develop methods for linking mathematical models to real-world data that could be used for continent-scale risk assessment given adequate data on local host and vector populations. We have applied the methods to a well-studied agricultural region of California with >1 million dairy cattle, abundant and competent mosquito vectors, and a permissive climate that has enabled consistent transmission of West Nile virus and historically other arboviruses. Our results suggest that RVFV outbreaks could occur from February-November, but would progress slowly during winter-early spring or early fall and be limited spatially to areas with early increases in vector abundance. Risk was greatest in summer, when the areas at risk broadened to include most of the dairy farms in the study region, indicating the potential for considerable economic losses if an introduction were to occur. To assess the threat that RVFV poses to North America, including what-if scenarios for introduction and control strategies, models such as this one should be an integral part of the process; however, modeling must be paralleled by efforts to address the numerous remaining gaps in data and knowledge for this system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases