How Host Population Dynamics Translate into Time-Lagged Prevalence: An Investigation of Sin Nombre Virus in Deer Mice
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- Adler, F.R., Pearce-Duvet, J.M.C. & Dearing, M.D. Bull. Math. Biol. (2008) 70: 236. doi:10.1007/s11538-007-9251-8
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Human cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome caused by Sin Nombre virus are the endpoint of complex ecological cascade from weather conditions, population dynamics of deer mice, to prevalence of SNV in deer mice. Using population trajectories from the literature and mathematical modeling, we analyze the time lag between deer mouse population peaks and peaks in SNV antibody prevalence in deer mice. Because the virus is not transmitted vertically, rapid population growth can lead initially to reduced prevalence, but the resulting higher population size may later increase contact rates and generate increased prevalence. Incorporating these factors, the predicted time lag ranges from 0 to 18 months, and takes on larger values when host population size varies with a longer period or higher amplitude, when mean prevalence is low and when transmission is frequency-dependent. Population size variation due to variation in birth rates rather than death rates also increases the lag. Predicting future human outbreaks of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome may require taking these effects into account.