Modelling geographic variations in West Nile virus.
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BACKGROUND: This paper applies a method for modelling the spatial variation of West Nile virus (WNv) in humans using bird, environmental and human testing data. METHODS: We used data collected from 503 Alberta municipalities. In order to manage the effects of residual spatial autocorrelation, we used generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) to model the incidence of infection. RESULTS: There were 275 confirmed cases of WNv in the 2003 calendar year in Alberta. Our spatial model indicates that living in the grasslands natural region and levels of human testing are significant positive predictors of WNv; living in an urban area is a significant negative predictor. CONCLUSION: Infected bird data contribute little to our model. The variability of West Nile virus incidence in Alberta may be partly confounded by the variations in the rate of testing in different parts of the province. However, variation in infection is also associated with known environmental risk factors. Our findings are consistent with existing knowledge of WNv in North America.
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