Vector-borne diseases persist in transmission systems that usually comprise heterogeneously distributed vectors and hosts leading to a highly heterogeneous case distribution. In this study, we build on principles of classical mathematical epidemiology to investigate spatial heterogeneity of disease risk for vector-borne diseases. Land cover delineates habitat suitability for vectors, and land use determines the spatial distribution of humans. We focus on the risk of exposure for dengue transmission on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, where the vector Aedes albopictus is well established and areas of dense human population exist. In Hawai'i, dengue virus is generally absent, but occasionally flares up when introduced. It is therefore relevant to investigate risk, but difficult to do based on disease incidence data. Based on publicly available data (land cover, land use, census data, surveillance mosquito trapping), we map the spatial distribution of vectors and human hosts and finally overlay them to produce a vector-to-host ratio map. The resulting high-resolution maps indicate a high spatial variability in vector-to-host ratio suggesting that risk of exposure is spatially heterogeneous and varies according to land cover and land use.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.