Climate-driven models to predict future risk of arenavirus spillover


  • Dr Pranav Pandit

    University of California, Davis, United States

  • Prof Christine Johnson

    University of California, Davis, United States

  • Dr Marcela Uhart

    University of California, Davis, United States

  • Dr Brian Bird

    University of California, Davis, United States

Project summary

Arenaviruses are featured in the World Health Organization's list of priority diseases with specific concerns around endemic arenavirus infections in Africa and emerging arenavirus threats in South America. The risk of these zoonotic viruses is driven by the distribution and ecology of their rodent reservoir species which are highly sensitive to landscape changes. In the coming years, our changing climate could impact the risk of arenavirus spillover from rodents through various mechanisms such as drought, frequency of fires, and adaptive agricultural practices.

We aim to develop climate-sensitive models for individual arenaviruses by closely collaborating with regional public health experts to create a pipeline of validated data that feeds into predictive models. Models will be based on reservoir rodent distribution, human cases, and bioclimatic factors that influence the ecology of arenaviruses will be also used to predict future risk based on specific emission scenarios and projected local climate data (2.6/4.5/6.0 IPCC-GISS).

Furthermore, models will be presented on an online platform for public and policy analysts to explore with clear validation around model uncertainties. The tool will also become a resource for researchers as a centralized database and knowledge centre for arenaviruses in addition to a home for predictive scenario-based modelling activities.