Modelling the future risk of Japanese encephalitis in Victoria using Geographic Information System
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Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Built Environment, Deakin University, Australia
National Centre for Farmer Health, School of Medicine, Deakin University, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A163
Climate changes effect on zoonotic disease risks is not yet well understood. Japanese Encephalitis (JE) is a viral zoonotic disease endemic in Southeast Asia and the western Pacific. The spread and transmission are associated with rain, warm temperatures, migratory waterbirds, the presence of pigs as amplifying hosts and a competent vector. In 2022, the virus reached the Australian mainland in an unprecedented outbreak spanning the eastern seaboard. This project aims to accurately identify future high-risk areas for JE transmission in a changing climate and use that information to inform preparedness policy at a state and regional level. A newly developed model, deployed in a geographical information system (GIS), was used to analyse the suitability of the state of Victoria, Australia, for the JE vector Culex annulirostris. The parameters considered included rain, temperature, elevation, and the distance to water bodies and piggeries. Future climate projections included in the model were generated using the global climate model ACCESS-CM2, driven by worst- and best-case scenarios SSP126 and SSP585. Monthly risk maps were generated for the current and projected climate in the years 2040 and 2060. The results showed that changes in climate expected for the state of Victoria will indeed influence the risk of JE since the areas suitable for the presence of Culex annulirostris will expand. Data on the location of piggeries and water bodies combined with the climate projections allowed us to identify with higher precision local areas where JE has a higher likelihood of becoming endemic. When overlaid with regional jurisdictional boundaries, the analysis also identified regional/provincial governments that need to improve their infectious disease preparedness policies. In Conclusions, climate change will create conditions in Victoria that could help JE to become endemic, indicating the need for greater preparedness.
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