Two separate analyses were carried out to understand the epidemiology of Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) in 2007 in North West Europe: First, the temporal change in transmission rates was compared to the evolution of temperature during that season. Second, we evaluated the spatio-temporal dynamics of newly reported outbreaks, to estimate a spatial transmission kernel. For both analyses, the approach as used before in analysing the 2006 BTV-8 epidemic had to be adapted in order to take into account the fact that the 2007 epidemic was not a newly arising epidemic, but one advancing from whereto it had already spread in 2006. We found that within the area already affected by the 2006 outbreak, the pattern of newly infected farms in 2007 cannot be explained by between-farm transmission, but rather by local re-emergence of the virus throughout that region. This indicates that persistence through winter was ubiquitous for BTV-8. Just like in 2006, we also found that the temperature at which the infection starts to spread lies close to 15 °C. Finally, we found that the shape of the transmission kernel is in line with the one from the 2006 epidemic. In conclusion, despite the substantial differences between 2006 and 2007 in temperature patterns (2006 featured a heat wave in July, whereas 2007 was more regular) and spatial epidemic extent, both the minimum temperature required for transmission and the transmission kernel were similar to those estimated for the 2006 outbreak, indicating that they are robust properties, suitable for extrapolation to other years and similar regions.
Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a zoonotic vector-borne infection and causes a potentially severe disease. Many mammals are susceptible to infection including important livestock species. Although currently confined to Africa and the near-East, this disease causes concern in countries in temperate climates where both hosts and potential vectors are present, such as the Netherlands. Currently, an assessment of the probability of an outbreak occurring in this country is missing. To evaluate the transmission potential of RVFV, a mathematical model was developed and used to determine the initial growth and the Floquet ratio, which are indicators of the probability of an outbreak and of persistence in a periodic changing environment caused by seasonality. We show that several areas of the Netherlands have a high transmission potential and risk of persistence of the infection. Counter-intuitively, these are the sparsely populated livestock areas, due to the high vector-host ratios in these areas. Culex pipiens s.l. is found to be the main driver of the spread and persistence, because it is by far the most abundant mosquito. Our investigation underscores the importance to determine the vector competence of this mosquito species for RVFV and its host preference.
Bluetongue (BT) is a vector-borne disease of ruminants caused by bluetongue virus that is transmitted by biting midges (Culicoides spp.). In 2006, the introduction of BTV serotype 8 (BTV-8) caused a severe epidemic in Western and Central Europe. The principal effective veterinary measure in response to BT was believed to be vaccination accompanied by other measures such as movement restrictions and surveillance. As the number of vaccine doses available at the start of the vaccination campaign was rather uncertain, the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality and the Dutch agricultural industry wanted to evaluate several different vaccination strategies. This study aimed to rank eight vaccination strategies based on their efficiency (i.e. net costs in relation to prevented losses or benefits) for controlling the bluetongue virus serotype 8 epidemic in 2008.
The recent bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) epidemic in Western Europe struck hard. Controlling the infection was difficult and a good and safe vaccine was not available until the spring of 2008. Little was known regarding BTV transmission in Western Europe or the efficacy of control measures. Quantitative details on transmission are essential to assess the potential and efficacy of such measures.To quantify virus transmission between herds, a temporal and a spatio-temporal analysis were applied to data on reported infected herds in 2006. We calculated the basic reproduction number between herds (Rh: expected number of new infections, generated by one initial infected herd in a susceptible environment). It was found to be of the same order of magnitude as that of an infection with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in The Netherlands, e.g. around 4. We concluded that an average day temperature of at least 15 °C is required for BTV-8 transmission between herds in Western Europe. A few degrees increase in temperature is found to lead to a major increase in BTV-8 transmission.We also found that the applied disease control (spatial zones based on 20 km radius restricting animal transport to outside regions) led to a spatial transmission pattern of BTV-8, with 85% of transmission restricted to a 20 km range. This 20 km equals the scale of the protection zones. We concluded that free animal movement led to substantial faster spread of the BTV-8 epidemic over space as compared to a situation with animal movement restrictions.
BSE is a zoonotic disease that caused the emergence of variant Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease in the mid 1990s. The trend of the BSE epidemic in seven European countries was assessed and compared, using Age-Period-Cohort and Reproduction Ratio modelling applied to surveillance data 2001-2007. A strong decline in BSE risk was observed for all countries that applied control measures during the 1990s, starting at different points in time in the different countries. Results were compared with the type and date of the BSE control measures implemented between 1990 and 2001 in each country. Results show that a ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal (MBM) to cattle alone was not sufficient to eliminate BSE. The fading out of the epidemic started shortly after the complementary measures targeted at controlling the risk in MBM. Given the long incubation period, it is still too early to estimate the additional effect of the ban on the feeding of animal protein to all farm animals that started in 2001. These results provide new insights in the risk assessment of BSE for cattle and Humans, which will especially be useful in the context of possible relaxing BSE surveillance and control measures.
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