Vector-borne Infectious Diseases in Climate Change Investigations (VICCI):

Project 3: Study and epidemiological Computermodelling on vector-borne infectious diseases in Bavaria

Project Director

Dr. Philippe G. de Mendonça and Prof . Kurt Pfister,
Comparative Tropical Medicine and Parasitology, LMU Munich, Munich


Landscape is made of a mosaic of diverse biotope types, e.g. woodland, fields or built-up areas. Woodland habitat has been investigated intensively for many years by various research projects (e.g. the EDEN project), whereas open landscape (e.g. fields and meadows) received comparatively little attention.

The latter one however represents a large proportion of the European and Bavarian landscape. Many species of mammals and birds live there or make use of such biotopes for foraging. Fields and meadows are therefore an important meeting point between wildlife, domestic animals and humans. This is where pathogens may leave their so called ‘sylvatic cycle’ to enter the ‘domestic cycle’, thus becoming a cause of concern to both animal and public health.

Ticks act as a bridge for pathogens between wild animals and domestic hosts. A (relatively) simple system involving ticks, tick-borne pathogens, wild reservoirs hosts (e.g. voles, birds, foxes, or deer) and domestic animals (e.g. cats) already constitutes a rich field of investigation, thus providing the opportunity to develop epidemiological models of progressively increasing complexity. Data collected in the field and provided by additional laboratory analyses are the parameters required for efficient computer modelling encompassing the real variability of nature. Such models make it possible to explore the inter-relations between the various actors of the epidemiological system and thus further our understanding of disease transmission, thus potentially improving our ability to forecast disease spread or outbreak. This is precisely the aims and activities of module 3 of the VICCI integrative project funded by the Bavarian Ministry for Environment and Public Health.