Local rabies transmission and regional spatial coupling in European foxes

Baker, L., Matthiopoulos, J. , Müller, T., Freuling, C. and Hampson, K. (2020) Local rabies transmission and regional spatial coupling in European foxes. PLoS ONE, 15(5), e0220592. (doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220592) (PMID:32469961) (PMCID:PMC7259497)

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Infectious diseases are often transmitted through local interactions. Yet, both surveillance and control measures are implemented within administrative units. Capturing local transmission processes and spatial coupling between regions from aggregate level data is therefore a technical challenge that can shed light on both theoretical questions and practical decisions. Fox rabies has been eliminated from much of Europe through oral rabies vaccination (ORV) programmes. The European Union (EU) co-finances ORV to maintain rabies freedom in EU member and border states via a cordon sanitaire. Models to capture local transmission dynamics and spatial coupling have immediate application to the planning of these ORV campaigns and to other parts of the world considering oral vaccination. We fitted a hierarchical Bayesian state-space model to data on three decades of fox rabies cases and ORV campaigns from Eastern Germany. Specifically, we find that (i) combining regional spatial coupling and heterogeneous local transmission allows us to capture regional rabies dynamics; (ii) incursions from other regions account for less than 1% of cases, but allow for re-emergence of disease; (iii) herd immunity achieved through bi-annual vaccination campaigns is short-lived due to population turnover. Together, these findings highlight the need for regular and sustained vaccination efforts and our modelling approach can be used to provide strategic guidance for ORV delivery. Moreover, we show that biological understanding can be gained from inference from partially observed data on wildlife disease.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Hampson, Professor Katie and Matthiopoulos, Professor Jason and Baker, Miss Laurie
Creator Roles:
Baker, L.Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Writing – original draft
Matthiopoulos, J.Conceptualization, Writing – review and editing
Hampson, K.Conceptualization, Writing – review and editing
Authors: Baker, L., Matthiopoulos, J., Müller, T., Freuling, C., and Hampson, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:PLoS ONE
Publisher:Public Library of Science
ISSN (Online):1932-6203
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 Baker et al.
First Published:First published in PLoS ONE 15(5): e0220592
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190394MRC Doctoral Training Grant 2011-2015Mary Beth KneafseyMedical Research Council (MRC)MR/J50032X/1Research and Innovation Services
165644Hierarchical epidemiology: the spread and persistence of infectious diseases in complex landscapesKatie HampsonWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)095787/Z/11/ZInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
301620The Science of Rabies EliminationKatie HampsonWellcome Trust (WELLCOTR)207569/Z/17/ZInstitute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine