Environmental heterogeneity and variations in the velocity of bluetongue virus spread in six European epidemics

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Several epidemics caused by different bluetongue virus (BTV) serotypes occurred in European ruminants since the early 2000. Studies on the spatial distribution of these vector-borne infections and the main vector species highlighted contrasted eco-climatic regions characterized by different dominant vector species. However, little work was done regarding the factors associated with the velocity of these epidemics. In this study, we aimed to quantify and compare the velocity of BTV epidemic that have affected different European countries under contrasted eco-climatic conditions and to relate these estimates to spatial factors such as temperature and host density. We used the thin plate spline regression interpolation method in combination with trend surface analysis to quantify the local velocity of different epidemics that have affected France (BTV-8 2007–2008, BTV-1 2008–2009), Italy (BTV-1 2014), Andalusia in Spain (BTV-1 2007) and the Balkans (BTV-4 2014). We found significant differences in the local velocity of BTV spread according to the country and epidemics, ranging from 7.9 km/week (BTV-1 2014 Italy) to 24.4 km/week (BTV-1 2008 France). We quantify and discuss the effect of temperature and local host density on this velocity. (Résumé d'auteur)