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- Morgan P. Kain
- Eloise B. Skinner
- Andrew F. van den Hurk
- Hamish McCallum
- Erin A. Mordecai
Identifying the key vector and host species driving transmission is notoriously difficult for vector-borne zoonoses, but critical for disease control. Here, we present a general approach for quantifying the role hosts and vectors play in transmission that integrates species’ physiological competence with their ecological traits. We apply this model to the medically important arbovirus Ross River virus (RRV), in Brisbane, Australia. We found that vertebrate species with high physiological competence weren’t the most important for community transmission. Instead, we estimated that humans (previously overlooked as epidemiologically important hosts) potentially play an important role in RRV transmission, in part, because highly competent vectors readily feed on them and are highly abundant. By contrast, vectors with high physiological competence were also important for community transmission. Finally, we uncovered two potential transmission cycles: an enzootic cycle involving birds and an urban cycle involving humans. This modelling approach has direct application to other zoonotic arboviruses.