Behavioral, climatic, and environmental risk factors for Zika and Chikungunya virus infections in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015-16
The burden of arboviruses in the Americas is high and may result in long-term sequelae with infants disabled by Zika virus infection (ZIKV) and arthritis caused by infection with Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). We aimed to identify environmental drivers of arbovirus epidemics to predict where the next epidemics will occur and prioritize municipalities for vector control and eventual vaccination. We screened sera and urine samples (n = 10,459) from residents of 48 municipalities in the state of Rio de Janeiro for CHIKV, dengue virus (DENV), and ZIKV by molecular PCR diagnostics. Further, we assessed the spatial pattern of arbovirus incidence at the municipal and neighborhood scales and the timing of epidemics and major rainfall events. Lab-confirmed cases included 1,717 infections with ZIKV (43.8%) and 2,170 with CHIKV (55.4%) and only 29 (<1%) with DENV. ZIKV incidence was greater in neighborhoods with little access to municipal water infrastructure (r = -0.47, p = 1.2x10-8). CHIKV incidence was weakly correlated with urbanization (r = 0.2, p = 0.02). Rains began in October 2015 and were followed one month later by the largest wave of ZIKV epidemic. ZIKV cases markedly declined in February 2016, which coincided with the start of a CHIKV outbreak. Rainfall predicted ZIKV and CHIKV with a lead time of 3 weeks each time. The association between rainfall and epidemics reflects vector ecology as the larval stages of Aedes aegypti require pools of water to develop. The temporal dynamics of ZIKV and CHIKV may be explained by the shorter incubation period of the viruses in the mosquito vector; 2 days for CHIKV versus 10 days for ZIKV.