A Bayesian Belief Network for Murray Valley encephalitis virus risk assessment in Western Australia

Soon Hoe H. Ho, Peter Speldewinde, Angus Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Ho et al. Background: Murray Valley encephalitis virus (MVEV) is a clinically important virus in Australia responsible for a number of epidemics over the past century. Since there is no vaccine for MVEV, other preventive health measures to curtail its spread must be considered, including the development of predictive risk models and maps to help direct public health interventions. This article aims to support these approaches by presenting a model for assessing MVEV risk in Western Australia (WA). Methods: A Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) for assessing MVEV risk was developed and used to quantify and map disease risks in WA. The model combined various abiotic, biotic, and anthropogenic factors that might affect the risk of MVEV into a predictive framework, based on the ecology of the major mosquito vector and waterbird hosts of MVEV. It was further refined and tested using retrospective climate data from 4years (2000, 2003, 2009, and 2011). Results: Implementing the model across WA demonstrated that it could predict locations of human MVEV infection and sentinel animal seroconversion in the 4years tested with some degree of accuracy. In general, risks are highest in the State's north and lower in the south. The model predicted that short-term climate change, based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's A1B emissions scenario, would decrease MVEV risks in summer and autumn, largely due to higher temperatures decreasing vector survival. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first model to use a BBN to quantify MVEV risks in WA. The models and maps developed here may assist public health agencies in preparing for and managing Murray Valley encephalitis in the future. In its current form, the model is knowledge-driven and based on the analysis of potential risk factors that affect the dynamics of MVEV using retrospective data. Further work and additional testing should be carried out to test its validity in future years.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Health Geographics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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