This study was funded by the US National Institutes of Health National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, grant number NIH R01NS080645 and the Fogarty International Center. IWP was supported by a Fulbright fellowship.
Parasites & Vectors
Background: The pork tapeworm, Taenia solium, is a serious public health problem in rural low-resource areas of Latin America, Africa and Asia, where the associated conditions of nuerocysticercosis (NCC) and porcine cysticercosis cause substantial health and economic harms. An accurate and validated transmission model for T. solium would serve as an important new tool for control and elimination, as it would allow for comparison of available intervention strategies, and prioritization of the most effective strategies for control and elimination efforts.
Methods: We developed a spatially-explicit agent-based model (ABM) for T. solium (“CystiAgent”) that differs from prior T. solium models by including a spatial framework and behavioral parameters such as pig roaming, open human defecation, and human travel. In this article, we introduce the structure and function of the model, describe the data sources used to parameterize the model, and apply sensitivity analyses (Latin hypercube sampling-partial rank correlation coefficient (LHS-PRCC)) to evaluate model parameters.
Results: LHS-PRCC analysis of CystiAgent found that the parameters with the greatest impact on model uncertainty were the roaming range of pigs, the infectious duration of human taeniasis, use of latrines, and the set of “tuning” parameters defining the probabilities of infection in humans and pigs given exposure to T. solium.
Conclusions: CystiAgent is a novel ABM that has the ability to model spatial and behavioral features of T. solium transmission not available in other models. There is a small set of impactful model parameters that contribute uncertainty to the model and may impact the accuracy of model projections. Field and laboratory studies to better understand these key components of transmission may help reduce uncertainty, while current applications of CystiAgent may consider calibration of these parameters to improve model performance. These results will ultimately allow for improved interpretation of model validation results, and usage of the model to compare available control and elimination strategies for T. solium.
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Pray, I. W., Wakeland, W., Pan, W., Lambert, W. E., Garcia, H. H., Gonzalez, A. E., & O’Neal, S. E. (2020). Understanding transmission and control of the pork tapeworm with CystiAgent: a spatially explicit agent-based model.