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Forest Connectivity, Host Assemblage Characteristics of Local and Neighboring Counties, and Temperature Jointly Shape the Spatial Expansion of Lyme Disease in United States

1
College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210046, China
2
Resource Ecology Group, Wageningen University, 6708PB Wageningen, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2019, 11(20), 2354; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs11202354 (registering DOI)
Received: 2 August 2019 / Revised: 30 September 2019 / Accepted: 10 October 2019 / Published: 11 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Remote Sensing for Public Health)
Understanding risk factors for the spread of infectious diseases over time and across the landscape is critical for managing disease risk. While habitat connectivity and characteristics of local and neighboring animal (i.e., host) assemblages are known to influence the spread of diseases, the interactions among these factors remain poorly understood. In this study, we conducted a county-level analysis to test the effects of forest connectivity, together with the suitability of local assemblage (measured by the similarity of local host assemblage with neighboring assemblages) and the infection intensity of neighboring counties on the spatial expansion of Lyme disease in the United States. Our results suggested that both the similarity of local host assemblage and the infection intensity of neighboring counties were positively correlated with the probability of disease spread. Moreover, we found that increasing forest connectivity could facilitate the positive effect of neighbor infection intensity. In contrast, the effect size of the host assemblage similarity decreased with increasing connectivity, suggesting that host assemblage similarity was less effective in well-connected habitats. Our results thus indicate that habitat connectivity can indirectly influence disease spread by mediating the effects of other risk factors. View Full-Text
Keywords: disease spread; forest cover; assemblage similarity; host assemblage composition; infection intensity disease spread; forest cover; assemblage similarity; host assemblage composition; infection intensity
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Wang, Y.X.G.; Matson, K.D.; Xu, Y.; Prins, H.H.T.; Huang, Z.Y.X.; de Boer, W.F. Forest Connectivity, Host Assemblage Characteristics of Local and Neighboring Counties, and Temperature Jointly Shape the Spatial Expansion of Lyme Disease in United States. Remote Sens. 2019, 11, 2354.

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