Background The natural transmission cycle of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus is enhanced by complex interactions between ticks and key hosts strongly connected to habitat characteristics. The diversity of wildlife host species and their relative abundance is known to affect transmission of tick-borne diseases. Therefore, in the current context of global biodiversity loss, we explored the relationship between habitat richness and the pattern of human TBE cases in Europe to assess biodiversity's role in disease risk mitigation. Methods We assessed human TBE case distribution across 879 European regions using official epidemiological data reported to The European Surveillance System (TESSy) between 2017 and 2021 from 15 countries. We explored the relationship between TBE presence and the habitat richness index (HRI1) by means of binomial regression. We validated our findings at local scale using data collected between 2017 and 2021 in 227 municipalities located in Trento and Belluno provinces, two known TBE foci in northern Italy. Findings Our results showed a significant parabolic effect of HRI on the probability of presence of human TBE cases in the European regions included in our dataset, and a significant, negative effect of HRI on the local presence of TBE in northern Italy. At both spatial scales, TBE risk decreases in areas with higher values of HRI. Interpretation To our knowledge, no efforts have yet been made to explore the relationship between biodiversity and TBE risk, probably due to the scarcity of high-resolution, large-scale data about the abundance or density of critical host species. Hence, in this study we considered habitat richness as proxy for vertebrate host diversity. The results suggest that in highly diverse habitats TBE risk decreases. Hence, biodiversity loss could enhance TBE risk for both humans and wildlife. This association is relevant to support the hypothesis that the maintenance of highly diverse ecosystems mitigates disease risk

Dagostin, F.; Tagliapietra, V.; Marini, G.; Ferrari, G.; Cervellini, M.; Wint, W.; Alexander, N.S.; Zuccali, M.G.; Molinaro, S.; Fiorito, N.; Dub, T.; Rocchini, D.; Rizzoli, A. (2024). High habitat richness reduces the risk of tick-borne encephalitis in Europe: a multi-scale study. ONE HEALTH, 18: 100669. doi: 10.1016/j.onehlt.2023.100669 handle: https://hdl.handle.net/10449/83675

High habitat richness reduces the risk of tick-borne encephalitis in Europe: a multi-scale study

Dagostin, Francesca
Primo
;
Tagliapietra, Valentina;Marini, Giovanni;Ferrari, Giulia;Rizzoli, Annapaola
Ultimo
2024-01-01

Abstract

Background The natural transmission cycle of tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) virus is enhanced by complex interactions between ticks and key hosts strongly connected to habitat characteristics. The diversity of wildlife host species and their relative abundance is known to affect transmission of tick-borne diseases. Therefore, in the current context of global biodiversity loss, we explored the relationship between habitat richness and the pattern of human TBE cases in Europe to assess biodiversity's role in disease risk mitigation. Methods We assessed human TBE case distribution across 879 European regions using official epidemiological data reported to The European Surveillance System (TESSy) between 2017 and 2021 from 15 countries. We explored the relationship between TBE presence and the habitat richness index (HRI1) by means of binomial regression. We validated our findings at local scale using data collected between 2017 and 2021 in 227 municipalities located in Trento and Belluno provinces, two known TBE foci in northern Italy. Findings Our results showed a significant parabolic effect of HRI on the probability of presence of human TBE cases in the European regions included in our dataset, and a significant, negative effect of HRI on the local presence of TBE in northern Italy. At both spatial scales, TBE risk decreases in areas with higher values of HRI. Interpretation To our knowledge, no efforts have yet been made to explore the relationship between biodiversity and TBE risk, probably due to the scarcity of high-resolution, large-scale data about the abundance or density of critical host species. Hence, in this study we considered habitat richness as proxy for vertebrate host diversity. The results suggest that in highly diverse habitats TBE risk decreases. Hence, biodiversity loss could enhance TBE risk for both humans and wildlife. This association is relevant to support the hypothesis that the maintenance of highly diverse ecosystems mitigates disease risk
Biodiversity
Europe
Habitat richness
One health
Vector-borne disease
Tick-borne encephalitis
Settore VET/06 - PARASSITOLOGIA E MALATTIE PARASSITARIE DEGLI ANIMALI
2024
Dagostin, F.; Tagliapietra, V.; Marini, G.; Ferrari, G.; Cervellini, M.; Wint, W.; Alexander, N.S.; Zuccali, M.G.; Molinaro, S.; Fiorito, N.; Dub, T.; Rocchini, D.; Rizzoli, A. (2024). High habitat richness reduces the risk of tick-borne encephalitis in Europe: a multi-scale study. ONE HEALTH, 18: 100669. doi: 10.1016/j.onehlt.2023.100669 handle: https://hdl.handle.net/10449/83675
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