A Framework to Monitor Changes in Transmission and Epidemiology of Emerging Pathogens: Lessons From Nipah Virus

Nikolay B, Salje H, Khan AKMD, Sazzad HMS, Satter SM, Rahman M, Doan S, Knust B, Flora MS, Luby SP, Cauchemez S, Gurley ES


It is of uttermost importance that the global health community develops the surveillance capability to effectively monitor emerging zoonotic pathogens that constitute a major and evolving threat for human health. In this study, we propose a comprehensive framework to measure changes in (1) spillover risk, (2) interhuman transmission, and (3) morbidity/mortality associated with infections based on 6 epidemiological key indicators derived from routine surveillance. We demonstrate the indicators' value for the retrospective or real-time assessment of changes in transmission and epidemiological characteristics using data collected through a long-standing, systematic, hospital-based surveillance system for Nipah virus in Bangladesh. We show that although interhuman transmission and morbidity/mortality indicators were stable, the number and geographic extent of spillovers varied significantly over time. This combination of systematic surveillance and active tracking of transmission and epidemiological indicators should be applied to other high-risk emerging pathogens to prevent public health emergencies.

Keywords: Nipah virus; emerging pathogens; monitoring; surveillance.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. All rights reserved. For permissions, e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.