In a new paper, Victoria Romero-Aznar, a postdoc in the lab, Mercedes, and french colleagues Richard Paul (Pasteur Inst.) and Olivier Telle (CNRS; CNS, Delhi),  examine the neglected and poorly understood link between the abundance of mosquitoes and the density of humans in models for vector-borne infections. They show that the functional form of this link can lead to an individual risk of infection that increases with human density, in a pattern opposite to that generated by current standard models.  Thus, there is not necessarily a ‘safety in numbers’ in dense human environments, and the opposite can be the case, especially under conditions of poverty.  Data from the city of Delhi support this conclusion and point to the importance of better understanding this missing link of current mathematical models given the rampant pace of urbanization and the emergent problem of mosquito-borne infections.

This work was made possible by the FACCTS (France and Chicago collaborating in the Sciences) program of the University of Chicago.