Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 36992499
Link to DOI – 79110.3390/v15030791
Viruses 2023 Mar; 15(3):
Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is a viral disease endemic in Eurasia. The virus is mainly transmitted to humans via ticks and occasionally via the consumption of unpasteurized milk products. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reported an increase in TBE incidence over the past years in Europe as well as the emergence of the disease in new areas. To better understand this phenomenon, we investigated the drivers of TBE emergence and increase in incidence in humans through an expert knowledge elicitation. We listed 59 possible drivers grouped in eight domains and elicited forty European experts to: (i) allocate a score per driver, (ii) weight this score within each domain, and (iii) weight the different domains and attribute an uncertainty level per domain. An overall weighted score per driver was calculated, and drivers with comparable scores were grouped into three terminal nodes using a regression tree analysis. The drivers with the highest scores were: (i) changes in human behavior/activities; (ii) changes in eating habits or consumer demand; (iii) changes in the landscape; (iv) influence of humidity on the survival and transmission of the pathogen; (v) difficulty to control reservoir(s) and/or vector(s); (vi) influence of temperature on virus survival and transmission; (vii) number of wildlife compartments/groups acting as reservoirs or amplifying hosts; (viii) increase of autochthonous wild mammals; and (ix) number of tick species vectors and their distribution. Our results support researchers in prioritizing studies targeting the most relevant drivers of emergence and increasing TBE incidence.