Garner MG, Beckett SD
Modelling the spread of foot-and-mouth disease in Australia
Australian Veterinary Journal
Preparedness for an incursion of an exotic animal disease is of key importance to government, industry, producers and the Australian community. An important aspect of Australia's preparedness for a possible incursion of foot-and-mouth disease is investigation into the likely effectiveness and cost-efficiency of eradication strategies when applied to different regional outbreak scenarios. Disease modelling is a tool that can be used to study diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease to better understand potential disease spread and control under different conditions.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has been involved with epidemiologic simulation modelling for more than 10 years, and has developed a sophisticated spatial model for foot-and-mouth disease (AusSpread) that operates within a geographic information system framework. The model accommodates real farm boundary or point-location data, as well as synthesised data based on agricultural census and land use information. The model also allows for interactions between herds or flocks of different animal species and production type, and considers the role that such interactions are likely to play in the epidemiology of a regional outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. The user can choose mitigations and eradication strategies from those that are currently described in Australia's veterinary emergency plan. The model also allows the user to evaluate the impact of constraints on the availability of resources for mitigations or eradication measures. Outputs include a range of maps and tabulated outbreak statistics describing the geographic extent of the outbreak and its duration, the numbers of affected, slaughtered, and, as relevant, vaccinated herds or flocks, and the cost of control and eradication. Cost-related outputs are based on budgets of the value of stock and the cost of mitigations, each of which can be varied by the user. These outputs are a valuable resource to assist with policy development and disease management.