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Mapping Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus Risk on Equestrian Trails in Florida State Parks

Joni Downs, Mehrdad Vaziri, Abigail V. Lavallin, Kristi Miley, Thomas R. Unnasch


Equestrian trail riding is a popular recreational activity but can expose horses and riders to arboviral diseases, such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus (EEEV). This study uses a geographic information system (GIS) -based risk index model to measure and map risk associated with EEEV transmission to horses on equine trails in State Parks across Florida. The risk model assesses EEEV transmission risk of individual trail locations on a continuous scale of 0.0 (no measurable risk) to 1.0 (maximal risk). Risk is evaluated based on the composition and configuration of habitat types that support vectors and hosts of the virus. The results suggest that visitors using equestrian trails in the Florida State Park System may potentially be exposed to high levels of EEEV risk during times that the virus is actively circulating. Accordingly, park management strategies are recommended for reducing transmission risk to both horses and riders in areas where risk is high.

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arbovirus; risk model; leisure; geographic information systems

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