Urbanization prolongs hantavirus epidemics in cities

Huaiyu Tian, Shixiong Hu, Bernard Cazelles, Gerardo Chowell, Lidong Gao, Marko Laine, Yapin Li, Huisuo Yang, Yidan Li, Qiqi Yang, Xin Tong, Ru Huang, Ottar N. Bjornstad, Hong Xiao, Nils Chr Stenseth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Urbanization and rural–urban migration are two factors driving global patterns of disease and mortality. There is significant concern about their potential impact on disease burden and the effectiveness of current control approaches. Few attempts have been made to increase our understanding of the relationship between urbanization and disease dynamics, although it is generally believed that urban living has contributed to reductions in communicable disease burden in industrialized countries. To investigate this relationship, we carried out spatiotemporal analyses using a 48-year-long dataset of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome incidence (HFRS; mainly caused by two serotypes of hantavirus in China: Hantaan virus and Seoul virus) and population movements in an important endemic area of south China during the period 1963–2010. Our findings indicate that epidemics coincide with urbanization, geographic expansion, and migrant movement over time. We found a biphasic inverted U-shaped relationship between HFRS incidence and urbanization, with various endemic turning points associated with economic growth rates in cities. Our results revealed the interrelatedness of urbanization, migration, and hantavirus epidemiology, potentially explaining why urbanizing cities with high economic growth exhibit extended epidemics. Our results also highlight contrasting effects of urbanization on zoonotic disease outbreaks during periods of economic development in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4707-4712
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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