Climatic, ecological and socioeconomic factors as predictors of Sindbis virus infections in Finland

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Mosquito-borne Sindbis virus (SINV) causes rash-arthritis syndrome in Finland. Major outbreaks with approximately 7-year cycles have caused substantial burden of illness. Forest dwelling grouse are suspected to be amplifying hosts, with the infection transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. SINV infection surveillance data for 1984–2010 were used to create a negative binomial hurdle model, with seasonality, long-term cycles, climatic, ecological and socioeconomic variables. Climatic factors during early summer and amount of snow in April described the occurrence and incidence of SINV infections. Regulated water shore and hatch-year black grouse density described the occurrence, while population working in agriculture, agricultural land (negative) and income (negative) described the incidence of the disease. The prediction for 2009 was 85 cases (95% prediction interval 2–1187), while the actual occurrence was 106. We identified novel and known risk factors. The prevention of SINV infections in regulated water areas by infected mosquito populations should be targeted.

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