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Parasites & Vectors

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Taenia solium -- Transmission, Taenia solium-- Treatment, Intelligent agents (Computer software) -- Applications to public health



Models can be used to study and predict the impact of interventions aimed at controlling the spread of infectious agents, such as Taenia solium, a zoonotic parasite whose larval stage causes epilepsy and economic loss in many rural areas of the developing nations. To enhance the credibility of model estimates, calibration against observed data is necessary. However, this process may lead to a paradoxical dependence of model parameters on location-specific data, thus limiting the model’s geographic transferability.


In this study, we adopted a non-local model calibration approach to assess whether it can improve the spatial transferability of CystiAgent, our agent-based model of local-scale T. solium transmission. The calibration dataset for CystiAgent consisted of cross-sectional data on human taeniasis, pig cysticercosis and pig serology collected in eight villages in Northwest Peru. After calibration, the model was transferred to a second group of 21 destination villages in the same area without recalibrating its parameters. Model outputs were compared to pig serology data collected over a period of 2 years in the destination villages during a trial of T. solium control interventions, based on mass and spatially targeted human and pig treatments.


Considering the uncertainties associated with empirical data, the model produced simulated pre-intervention pig seroprevalences that were successfully validated against data collected in 81% of destination villages. Furthermore, the model outputs were able to reproduce validated pig seroincidence values in 76% of destination villages when compared to the data obtained after the interventions. The results demonstrate that the CystiAgent model, when calibrated using a non-local approach, can be successfully transferred without requiring additional calibration.


This feature allows the model to simulate both baseline pre-intervention transmission conditions and the outcomes of control interventions across villages that form geographically homogeneous regions, providing a basis for developing large-scale models representing T. solium transmission at a regional level.


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