Aaron A. King, Ph.D.

Nelson G. Hairston Collegiate Professor of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology,
Complex Systems, and Mathematics, University of Michigan
External Professor, Santa Fe Institute
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fine-scale heterogeneity in population density predicts wave dynamics in dengue epidemics

V. Romeo-Aznar, L. Picinini Freitas, O. Gonçalves Cruz, A. A. King, and M. Pascual
Nature Communications 13(1): 996, 2022.
Population density at very local scales is an important determinant of the dynamics of dengue in Rio de Janeiro.

The spread of dengue and other arboviruses constitutes an expanding global health threat. The extensive heterogeneity in population distribution and potential complexity of movement in megacities of low and middle-income countries challenges predictive modeling, even as its importance to disease spread is clearer than ever. Using surveillance data at fine resolution from Rio de Janeiro, we document a scale-invariant pattern in the size of successive epidemics following DENV4 emergence. Using surveillance data at fine resolution following the emergence of the DENV4 dengue serotype in Rio de Janeiro, we document a pattern in the size of successive epidemics that is invariant to the scale of spatial aggregation. This pattern emerges from the combined effect of herd immunity and seasonal transmission, and is strongly driven by variation in population density at sub-kilometer scales. It is apparent only when the landscape is stratified by population density and not by spatial proximity as has been common practice. Models that exploit this emergent simplicity should afford improved predictions of the local size of successive epidemic waves.

The official version of the paper is here.   Please contact Prof. King if you'd like a reprint.

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