Morris RS, Stern MW, Stevenson MA, Wilesmith JW, Sanson RL
Predictive spatial modelling of alternative control strategies for the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic in Great Britain, 2001
A spatial simulation model of foot-and-mouth disease was used in March and early April 2001 to evaluate alternative control policies for the 2001 epidemic in Great Britain. Control policies were those in operation from March 20, 2001, and comprised a ban on all animal movements from February 23, 2001, and a stamping-out policy. Each simulation commenced with the known population of infected farms on April 10, 2001, and ran for 200 days. For the control policy which best approximated that actually implemented from late March, the model predicted an epidemic of approximately 1800 to 1900 affected farms, and estimated that the epidemic would be eradicated between July and October 2001, with a low probability of continuing beyond October 2001. This policy included the slaughter-out of infected farms within 24 hours, slaughter of about 1.3 of the surrounding farms per infected farm within a further 48 hours, and minimal interfarm movements of susceptible animals. Delays in the slaughter of animals on infected farms beyond 24 hours after diagnosis slightly increased the epidemic size, and failure to achieve pre-emptive slaughter on an adequate number of at-risk farms substantially increased the expected size of the epidemic. Vaccination of up to three of the most outbreak-dense areas carried out in conjunction with the adopted control policy reduced the predicted size of the epidemic by less than 100 farms. Vaccination of buffer zones (designed to apply available vaccine and manpower as effectively as possible) carried out in place of the adopted control policy allowed the disease to spread out of control, producing an epidemic involving over 6000 farms by October 2001, with no prospect of immediate eradication.