The risk of incomplete personal protection coverage in vector-borne disease
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Personal protection (PP) techniques, such as insecticide-treated nets, repellents and medications, include some of the most important and commonest ways used today to protect individuals from vector-borne infectious diseases. In this study, we explore the possibility that a PP intervention with partial coverage may have the counterintuitive effect of increasing disease burden at the population level, by increasing the biting intensity on the unprotected portion of the population. To this end, we have developed a dynamic model which incorporates parameters that describe the potential effects of PP on vector searching and biting behaviour and calculated its basic reproductive rate, R0. R0 is a well-established threshold of disease risk; the higher R0 is above unity, the stronger the disease onset intensity. When R0 is below unity, the disease is typically unable to persist. The model analysis revealed that partial coverage with popular PP techniques can realistically lead to a substantial increase in the reproductive number. An increase in R0 implies an increase in disease burden and difficulties in eradication efforts within certain parameter regimes. Our findings therefore stress the importance of studying vector behavioural patterns in response to PP interventions for future mitigation of vector-borne diseases.
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