Climatological, virological and sociological drivers of current and projected dengue fever outbreak dynamics in Sri Lanka

Caroline E. Wagner, Milad Hooshyar, Rachel E. Baker, Wenchang Yang, Nimalan Arinaminpathy, Gabriel Vecchi, C. Jessica E. Metcalf, Amilcare Porporato, Bryan T. Grenfell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The largest ever Sri Lankan dengue outbreak of 2017 provides an opportunity for investigating the relative contributions of climatological, epidemiological and sociological drivers on the epidemic patterns of this clinically important vector-borne disease. To do so, we develop a climatologically driven disease transmission framework for dengue virus using spatially resolved temperature and precipitation data as well as the time-series susceptible-infectedrecovered (SIR) model. From this framework, we first demonstrate that the distinct climatological patterns encountered across the island play an important role in establishing the typical yearly temporal dynamics of dengue, but alone are unable to account for the epidemic case numbers observed in Sri Lanka during 2017. Using a simplified two-strain SIR model, we demonstrate that the re-introduction of a dengue virus serotype that had been largely absent from the island in previous years may have played an important role in driving the epidemic, and provide a discussion of the possible roles for extreme weather events and human mobility patterns on the outbreak dynamics. Lastly, we provide estimates for the future burden of dengue across Sri Lanka using the Coupled Model Intercomparison Phase 5 climate projections. Critically, we demonstrate that climatological and serological factors can act synergistically to yield greater projected case numbers than would be expected from the presence of a single driver alone. Altogether, this work provides a holistic framework for teasing apart and analysing the various complex drivers of vector-borne disease outbreak dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20200075
JournalJournal of the Royal Society Interface
Issue number167
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


  • climate and disease
  • dengue
  • disease modelling
  • serotype
  • time-series susceptible-infectedrecovered


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