A proposed framework for the development and qualitative evaluation of West Nile virus models and their application to local public health decision-making


West Nile virus (WNV) is a globally distributed mosquito-borne virus of great public health concern. The number of WNV human cases and mosquito infection patterns vary in space and time. Many statistical models have been developed to understand and predict WNV geographic and temporal dynamics. However, these modeling efforts have been disjointed with little model comparison and inconsistent validation. In this paper, we describe a framework to unify and standardize WNV modeling efforts nationwide. WNV risk, detection, or warning models for this review were solicited from active research groups working in different regions of the United States. A total of 13 models were selected and described. The spatial and temporal scales of each model were compared to guide the timing and the locations for mosquito and virus surveillance, to support mosquito vector control decisions, and to assist in conducting public health outreach campaigns at multiple scales of decision-making. Our overarching goal is to bridge the existing gap between model development, which is usually conducted as an academic exercise, and practical model applications, which occur at state, tribal, local, or territorial public health and mosquito control agency levels. The proposed model assessment and comparison framework helps clarify the value of individual models for decision-making and identifies the appropriate temporal and spatial scope of each model. This qualitative evaluation clearly identifies gaps in linking models to applied decisions and sets the stage for a quantitative comparison of models. Specifically, whereas many coarse-grained models (county resolution or greater) have been developed, the greatest need is for fine-grained, short-term planning models (m–km, days–weeks) that remain scarce. We further recommend quantifying the value of information for each decision to identify decisions that would benefit most from model input.

Alexander C. Keyel
Morgan E. Gorris
Ilia Rochlin, Suffolk County, NY
Johnny A. Uelmen
Luis F. Chaves
Gabriel L. Hamer
Imelda K. Moise
Marta Shocket
A. Marm Kilpatrick, University of California Santa Cruz
Nicholas B. DeFelice
Justin K. Davis
Eliza Little, State of Connecticut
Patrick Irwin
Andrew J. Tyre
Kelly Helm Smith, University of Nebraska Lincoln
Chris L. Fredregill
Oliver Elison Timm, University at Albany, SUNY
Karen M. Holcomb
Michael C. Wimberly
Matthew J. Ward
Christopher M. Barker
Charlotte G. Rhodes
Rebecca L. Smith
PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases

Related Content