Increasing airline travel may facilitate co-circulation of multiple dengue virus serotypes in Asia
The incidence of dengue has grown dramatically in recent decades worldwide, especially in Southeast Asia and the Americas with substantial transmission in 2014–2015. Yet the mechanisms underlying the spatio-temporal circulation of dengue virus (DENV) serotypes at large geographical scales remain elusive. Here we investigate the co-circulation in Asia of DENV serotypes 1–3 from 1956 to 2015, using a statistical framework that jointly estimates migration history and quantifies potential predictors of viral spatial diffusion, including socio-economic, air transportation and maritime mobility data. We find that the spread of DENV-1, -2 and -3 lineages in Asia is significantly associated with air traffic. Our analyses suggest the network centrality of air traffic hubs such as Thailand and India contribute to seeding dengue epidemics, whilst China, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Singapore may establish viral diffusion links with multiple countries in Asia. Phylogeographic reconstructions help to explain how growing air transportation networks could influence the dynamics of DENV circulation.