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Product title :

Disease spread models in wild and feral animal populations: application of artificial life models

Author(s) : M.P. Ward, S.W. Laffan & L.D. Highfield

Summary :

The role that wild and feral animal populations might play in the incursion and spread of important transboundary animal diseases, such as foot and mouth disease (FMD), has received less attention than is warranted by the potential impacts. An artificial life model (Sirca) has been used to investigate this issue in studies based on spatially referenced data sets from southern Texas. An incursion of FMD in which either feral pig or deer populations were infected could result in between 698 and 1,557 infected cattle and affect an area of between 166 km² and 455 km² after a 100-day period. Although outbreak size in deer populations can be predicted by the size of the local deer population initially infected, the resulting outbreaks in feral pig populations are less predictable. Also, in the case of deer, the size of potential outbreaks might depend on the season when the incursion occurs. The impact of various mitigation strategies on disease spread has also been investigated. The approach used in the studies reviewed here explicitly incorporates the spatial distribution and relationships between animal populations, providing a new framework to explore potential impacts, costs, and control strategies.
 
Keywords
Deer – Feral pig – Foot and mouth disease – Geographic automata – Simulation model – Spatial analysis – Texas – Wildlife.

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