An agent-based model driven by tropical rainfall to understand the spatio-temporal heterogeneity of a chikungunya outbreak

Acta Trop. 2014 Jan:129:61-73. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2013.08.004. Epub 2013 Aug 16.


Vector-borne diseases, such as dengue, malaria and chikungunya, are increasing across their traditional ranges and continuing to infiltrate new, previously unaffected, regions. The spatio-temporal evolution of these diseases is determined by the interaction of the host and vector, which is strongly dependent on social structures and mobility patterns. We develop an agent-based model (ABM), in which each individual is explicitly represented and vector populations are linked to precipitation estimates in a tropical setting. The model is implemented on both scale-free and regular networks. The spatio-temporal transmission of chikungunya is analysed and the presence of asymptomatic silent spreaders within the population is investigated in the context of implementing travel restrictions during an outbreak. Preventing the movement of symptomatic individuals is found to be an insufficient mechanism to halt the spread of the disease, which can be readily carried to neighbouring nodes via sub-clinical individuals. Furthermore, the impact of topology structure vs. precipitation levels is assessed and precipitation is found to be the dominant factor driving spatio-temporal transmission.

Keywords: Agent-based model; Asymptomatic; Chikungunya; Computational epidemiology; Spatio-temporal; Urban scale-free network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alphavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Animals
  • Chikungunya Fever
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Humans
  • Rain
  • Topography, Medical*
  • Tropical Climate