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A UK platform for the control of Bovine Viral Diarrhoea:Application of a novel disease simulation model to guide programme development & policy design


To achieve our research aims we will create a mechanistic SEIR infectious disease simulation model incorporated within a whole farm model, REMEDY. REMEDY is an object-oriented dynamic mechanistic stochastic model, linked to a holistic environmental life-cycle analysis model and can represent multiple farm types. Within the herd simulation, the infection status of each animal will be modelled (naïve, exposed, persistently / transiently infected, resistant). The contact structure within a herd will be influenced by networks reflecting management. We will use existing BVD test data to define the spatial and temporal patterns of BVD across the UK and to define the epidemiological and spatial parameters to use within the model BVD infection. To establish a model of between farm networks we will use machine learning methods to cluster herds based on the demographic, spatial and movement data to identify a more granular classification systems for UK farms. The newly defined clusters will be used within a mechanistic model of cattle trade networks. The mechanistic within-farm and network simulation models will then be combined to create a UK wide national mechanistic infectious disease simulation model of BVD. Co-designing with the stakeholders, current BVD control programmes and future alternative scenarios will be identified. Stakeholder goals and behaviours relevant to BVD control will be elicited using semi-structured interviews and survey methods to obtain data to parameterise the simulation model. The current and alternative scenarios defined by the stakeholders will be simulated and epidemiological, economic, and environmental outcomes evaluated for all the UK and also stratified by nation and herd classification to explore the distribution cost/benefits and risk. Additionally, the impact of the model's ability to produce informative and impactful outputs capable of influencing stakeholder behaviour and the goals of BVD eradication programmes will be assessed.