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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(12), 4346-4364; doi:10.3390/ijerph9124346

Using the Gravity Model to Estimate the Spatial Spread of Vector-Borne Diseases

1,* , 2,3
1 Biosystems Department M3-BIORES, KU Leuven, Willem de Croylaan 34 B3001, Heverlee, Belgium 2 Climate Observations, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, PO Box 201 NL-3730 AE, De Bilt, The Netherlands 3 Applied Physics, Eindhoven University of Technology, PO Box 513 5600 MB, Eindhoven, The Netherlands 4 Laboratory of Clinical Virology, National Reference Laboratory for Hantaviruses, KU Leuven, Minderbroedersstraat 10 B3000, Leuven, Belgium
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 September 2012 / Revised: 13 November 2012 / Accepted: 21 November 2012 / Published: 30 November 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Determinants of Infectious Disease Transmission)
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The gravity models are commonly used spatial interaction models. They have been widely applied in a large set of domains dealing with interactions amongst spatial entities. The spread of vector-borne diseases is also related to the intensity of interaction between spatial entities, namely, the physical habitat of pathogens’ vectors and/or hosts, and urban areas, thus humans. This study implements the concept behind gravity models in the spatial spread of two vector-borne diseases, nephropathia epidemica and Lyme borreliosis, based on current knowledge on the transmission mechanism of these diseases. Two sources of information on vegetated systems were tested: the CORINE land cover map and MODIS NDVI. The size of vegetated areas near urban centers and a local indicator of occupation-related exposure were found significant predictors of disease risk. Both the land cover map and the space-borne dataset were suited yet not equivalent input sources to locate and measure vegetated areas of importance for disease spread. The overall results point at the compatibility of the gravity model concept and the spatial spread of vector-borne diseases.
Keywords: gravity models; nephropathia epidemica; Lyme borreliosis gravity models; nephropathia epidemica; Lyme borreliosis
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Barrios, J.M.; Verstraeten, W.W.; Maes, P.; Aerts, J.-M.; Farifteh, J.; Coppin, P. Using the Gravity Model to Estimate the Spatial Spread of Vector-Borne Diseases. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 4346-4364.

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