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Modeling zoonotic emergence: Nipah virus, epidemic enhancement, and general trends

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Olivier Restif.

** Note this is a lunch time seminar **

Viral transmission between host species can harm public health, conservation efforts, and the global economy. In 1998-1999 a novel paramyxovirus, now known as Nipah virus, emerged in peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, killing 105 people and devastating the commercial pig farming industry. I will describe a multinational, collaborative investigation of the factors that led to this widespread epidemic of Nipah virus encephalitis, particularly focusing on my work on the dynamics of emergence. I will then show how the results from this case study can be generalized to describe a phenomenon I call “epidemic enhancement,” whereby repeated viral introduction into a novel host population can produce longer and larger epidemics than observed upon initial introduction. I will use simple dynamical models to show that this is a realistic scenario within the parameter ranges of many common infectious diseases. Finally, I will give a broad overview of how models have been used to understand zoonotic processes and discuss important gaps in our current understanding, with implications for where to focus future efforts.

This talk is part of the Worms and Bugs series.

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