The impact of seasonal variability in wildlife populations on the predicted spread of foot and mouth disease

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Modeling potential disease spread in wildlife populations is important for predicting, responding to and recovering from a foreign animal disease incursion such as foot and mouth disease (FMD). We conducted a series of simulation experiments to determine how seasonal estimates of the spatial distribution of white-tailed deer impact the predicted magnitude and distribution of potential FMD outbreaks. Outbreaks were simulated in a study area comprising 2 distinct ecoregions in south Texas, USA, using a susceptible-latent-infectious-resistant geographic automata model (Sirca). Seasonal deer distributions were estimated by spatial autoregressive lag models and the normalized difference vegetative index. Significant (P < 0.0001) differences in both the median predicted number of deer infected and number of herds infected were found both between seasons and between ecoregions. Larger outbreaks occurred in winter within the higher deer-density ecoregion, whereas larger outbreaks occurred in summer and fall within the lower deer-density ecoregion. Results of this simulation study suggest that the outcome of an FMD incursion in a population of wildlife would depend on the density of the population infected and when during the year the incursion occurs. It is likely that such effects would be seen for FMD incursions in other regions and countries, and for other diseases, in cases in which a potential wildlife reservoir exists. Study findings indicate that the design of a mitigation strategy needs to take into account population and seasonal characteristics.
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Highfield, Linda D
Ward, Michael P
Laffan, Shawn
Norby, Bo
Wagner, Gale G
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Journal Article
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UNSW Faculty
download Highfield_Ward_Laffan_Norby_Wagner_2009_VetRes_40_18.pdf 290.92 KB Adobe Portable Document Format
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