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Definition of targets for vector control requires an understanding of the relationship between vector abundance and the intensity of arbovirus transmission. Using an extensive surveillance dataset with observations from sentinel chicken flocks and mosquito traps paired in time and space, hierarchical autoregressive logistic regression models were developed to predict the probability of seroconversion in chickens for western equine encephalomyelitis virus (WEEV) based on the relative abundance of the principal vector, Culex tarsalis. After adjustments for confounders, the abundance of Cx. tarsalis 29–42 d before the date of chicken sampling was credibly associated with the risk of WEEV transmission in both the Central and Coachella Valleys, and a doubling of relative Cx. tarsalis abundance was associated with a 58% increase in the odds of seroconversion. The critical time windows identified in our study highlight the need for surveillance of vector populations and forecasting models to guide proactive vector control measures before the detection of transmission to sentinel chickens.
Financial support: This work was funded by NASA Earth-Sun Science Applied Sciences Program Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science, Decision Support through Earth-Sun Science Research Results grant RM08-6044 for NNA06CN02A and NOAA Office of Global Programs, Climate Variability and Human Health grant 00-543.
Authors' addresses: Christopher M. Barker, Bruce F. Eldridge, Bborie K. Park, and William K. Reisen, Center for Vectorborne Diseases, University of California, Davis, CA. Wesley O. Johnson, Department of Statistics, Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine, CA. Forrest Melton, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA.