DOI: 10.1101/497750Dec 21, 2018Paper

Percolation models of pathogen spillover

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Alex WashburneRaina K Plowright


A series of logical events must occur for a pathogen to spill over from animals to people. The pathogen must be present in an animal reservoir, it must be shed from the reservoir into the environment or be transferred from the reservoir to a vector, it must persist in the environment or vector until contact with a human or amplifier host, and it must successfully enter, colonize, and reproduce within the human. These events each represent a barrier the pathogen must cross to successfully infect a human. Percolation models of pathogens completing the series of barriers or logical events can connect models of spillover risk with standard tools for statistical inference. Here, we develop percolation-based models of spillover risk and a theoretical framework for managing spillover as an inextricably multilevel process. Through analysis and simulation, we show that estimated associations between level-specific covariates and spillover events will err towards associations from dominant pathway to spillover, a potential problem if there are alternative pathways to spillover with different associations with covariates. Furthermore, estimated associations between covariates and spillover will better reflect associations between covariat...Continue Reading

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