Increasing Airline Travel May Facilitate Co-Circulation of Multiple Dengue Virus Serotypes in Asia

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 Aug 3;11(8):e0005694. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005694. eCollection 2017 Aug.


The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades worldwide, especially in Southeast Asia and the Americas with substantial transmission in 2014-2015. Yet the mechanisms underlying the spatio-temporal circulation of dengue virus (DENV) serotypes at large geographical scales remain elusive. Here we investigate the co-circulation in Asia of DENV serotypes 1-3 from 1956 to 2015, using a statistical framework that jointly estimates migration history and quantifies potential predictors of viral spatial diffusion, including socio-economic, air transportation and maritime mobility data. We find that the spread of DENV-1, -2 and -3 lineages in Asia is significantly associated with air traffic. Our analyses suggest the network centrality of air traffic hubs such as Thailand and India contribute to seeding dengue epidemics, whilst China, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Singapore may establish viral diffusion links with multiple countries in Asia. Phylogeographic reconstructions help to explain how growing air transportation networks could influence the dynamics of DENV circulation.

MeSH terms

  • Air Travel*
  • Aircraft
  • Americas / epidemiology
  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Asia, Southeastern / epidemiology
  • Dengue / epidemiology
  • Dengue / prevention & control
  • Dengue / transmission*
  • Dengue / virology*
  • Dengue Virus / classification
  • Dengue Virus / immunology
  • Dengue Virus / isolation & purification*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Phylogeography
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Serogroup
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spatio-Temporal Analysis
  • Thailand / epidemiology


  • RNA, Viral

Grant support

Funding has been provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81673234),; Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities,<> Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFA0600104),; Sir Henry Dale Fellowship (Wellcome Trust / Royal Society Grant 204311/Z/16/Z), This work was funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/European Research Council grant agree- ment number 614725-PATHPHYLODYN ([]). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.