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We recently reported the analysis of epidemiological data suggesting variability in individual susceptibility to infection by Schistosoma japonicum among rural villagers who reside in Sichuan Province of southwestern China. By supplementing the data used in the earlier analysis from other studies we have reported from this region, we presented improved estimates of cercarial exposure, which in turn, result in stronger evidence of susceptibility. This analysis was conducted using an individual-based mathematical model (IBM) whose use was motivated by the nature and extent of field data from the low-transmission environments exemplified by one of our datasets and typical of the current situation in most endemic areas of China. In addition to individual susceptibility and water contact, the model includes stochastic aspects of cercarial exposure as well as of diagnostic procedures, the latter being particularly relevant to the low-transmission environment. The simulation studies show that, to produce key aspects of the epidemiological findings, the distribution of susceptibility ranges over several orders of magnitude and is highly right skewed. We found no compelling evidence that the distribution of susceptibility differed between the two populations that underlie both the epidemiological and simulation results.
Authors' addresses: Shuo Wang and Robert C. Spear, Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley CA, E-mails: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.