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ANIHWA; LIVEepi

Institutions
University of Warwick
Start date
2013
End date
2016
Objective

This project aims to create the knowledge, mathematical frameworks and computational technologies to increase the effectiveness of detecting, controlling and eradicating emerging and exotic (vector-borne) infectious diseases in European livestock. Our approach is based on four complementary and synergistic scientific work packages (WP1-4) that play to the strengths of the five partner institutions (Warwick, Linkoping, UPMC, IZSAM & Wageningen):

WP1 is focused towards developing the necessary mathematical formulation to capture the range of transmission routes of livestock infections in a heterogeneous spatial environment. This will be complemented by efficient computer code and approximations that will permit a thorough investigation of infection spread and control in later work packages.

WP2 aims to develop robust and effective tools for monitoring and surveillance of (arthropod) vectors of diseases affecting livestock and wild animals. As such it will provide much needed data on vector abundance in four exemplar regions, together with effective ways in which biting densities can be estimated during future outbreaks.

WP3 integrates the models of WP1 with the data generated by WP2, and places both in a realistic context of farm locations, animal movements and environmental variables. This allows us to consider potential future outbreaks (reflecting a range of parameters) to assess their likely impact and the effectiveness of control measures.

WP4 focuses on four infectious diseases of livestock that are considered economically important and scientifically representative, and where good epidemiological data is available: Rift Valley Fever (vector-borne by mosquitoes with zoonotic potential); Bluetongue (vector-borne by Culicoides midges); African Swine Fever (ticks as potential vectors); Swine Vesicular disease (direct and indirect transmission).

In addition WP5 and WP6 deal with dissemination of findings to both the scientific and wider community, and management of the collaboration, resources and data.

More information

The main aims of this project are to create the knowledge, technologies and framework to increase the effectiveness of detecting, controlling and eradicating emerging and exotic diseases in European livestock. Recent experience has shown that the European livestock industry is vulnerable to a range of exotic infections, with outbreaks of Bluetongue, Avian Influenza and Schmallenberg virus highlighting how widely and rapidly pathogenic infections can spread. In part this spread represents the natural ability of the pathogen to pass between hosts, but this is exasperated by the (long-distance) movement of animals between farms and by the unknown dispersal of disease vectors, which play a crucial role in spreading of infection for a range of diseases. Often these vectors are biting insects (such as mosquitoes or midges) that pass infection as they feed, however, other physical or biological mechanisms can act as vectors for transmission – from vehicle movements between farms to spread by other host organisms such as local wildlife. To plan and prepare for future outbreaks we will develop mathematical models that can integrate these processes that act over different spatial and temporal scales. Such models will then be used to determine how to optimize surveillance for emerging outbreaks or novel vectors, infer key parameters from early outbreak data, and predict optimal control strategies for known or hypothetical scenarios.

Our approach is to formulate a general modelling framework for the spread of vector-borne (and non-vector-borne) livestock diseases and to enhance surveillance technologies for vectors. The modelling framework will consist of three parts: one that deals with the spread between nearby premises as captured by a local transmission kernel; one that handles the potentially long-range spread of infection through the movement of animals within and between countries in Europe; and another that explores the diffusive spread by a vector population either biting insects or other host species. We will strengthen the theoretical model development by applying the framework to three specific vector borne diseases: Rift Valley Fever (a potential zoonosis), Bluetongue, and African Swine Fever Virus.

The generic framework and specific modelling examples will produce a range of policy-relevant results that will be shared through our strong links with national and European animal health agencies. Throughout, mathematical models will be employed to generate robust practical advice that can have a direct impact on policy and the EU livestock industry.

Our proposed work fits within topic 3 of the ANIHWA call “Improvement of preparedness for emerging and exotic diseases” and will address all of the aspects listed. In particular our main focus is on model development for vector-borne diseases, but this necessitates a more quantitative understanding of vectors; it will lead to predictions for the optimal use of sentinel traps, early warning systems and a range of intervention strategies. In addition the generality of our modelling approach means that role of wildlife as vectors or reservoirs can be studied within the same framework.

Funding Source
Dept. for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Project source
View this project
Project number
SE0545
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens
Predictive Microbiology
Policy and Planning