Infections on the move: how transient phases of host movement influence disease spread.

02 Feb 2018

Animal movement impacts the spread of human and wildlife diseases, and there is significant interest in understanding the role of migrations, biological invasions and other wildlife movements in spatial infection dynamics. However, the influence of processes acting on infections during transient phases of host movement is poorly understood. We propose a conceptual framework that explicitly considers infection dynamics during transient phases of host movement to better predict infection spread through spatial host networks. Accounting for host transient movement captures key processes that occur while hosts move between locations, which together determine the rate at which hosts spread infections through networks. We review theoretical and empirical studies of host movement and infection spread, highlighting the multiple factors that impact the infection status of hosts. We then outline characteristics of hosts, parasites and the environment that influence these dynamics. Recent technological advances provide disease ecologists unprecedented ability to track the fine-scale movement of organisms. These, in conjunction with experimental testing of the factors driving infection dynamics during host movement, can inform models of infection spread based on constituent biological processes.