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Biology and control of mammalian vectors of rabies and rabies-related Lyssaviruses - SE0422

The project aims, firstly, to improve our understanding of the spread and control of rabies in terrestrial wildlife, and to determine the costs and benefits of different control options. This will involve updating fox density estimates into a GIS-linked database to permit immediate data extraction for contingency and research modelling, thus allowing immediate simulation of disease spread at the regional or national level. Tissue data collected from foxes sampled from other projects will beused to improve our estimates of fox density, and this will be added to the GIS database.

Economic assessment of wildlife rabies control options will be evaluated to determine the costs and benefits to society of different single or combined strategies, which together with the probability and time to reach eradication, will be available to help inform decisions on control options in the event of an outbreak of rabies in wildlife.

The second aim of the project is to further our understanding of bat biology and behaviour as relevant to the spread and management of lyssaviruses. Currently only Eurpean Bat Lyssavirus 2 (EBLV-2) has been recorded in the UK, so the projects aims to evaluate the potential for the spread of lyssaviruses in relevant bat species through the capture and marking, radiotracking and genetic analysis of Myotid and serotine bats. A related aspect will be the evalaution of two-species rabies models, which include hibernating animals, and the production of bat population models, including Lyssavirus epidemiology. Collection of non-UK bat tissue will be performed to improve the ability for genetic speciation of bats submitted to the VLA for analysis under the rabies surveillance scheme.
1. Cost Benefit Analysis on terrestrial wildlife rabies control.
This study will collate the costs of different control options and the estimate the potential benefits to society by achieving rabies eradication following isolated disease introductions.

2. Liaise with authorities in Germany, and other countries, on the effectiveness of their terrestrial rabies control strategies.
This will allow a comparative assessment of control efficacy and likelihood of the different options proposed in the UK.

3. Refine and collate estimates of fox density into an electronic database.
This will involve the collection of fox tissue samples obtained from other projects for genetic fingerprinting. These results will be used to update fox density estimates in the UK, and the refined data will be entered into a GIS-linked database to allow immediate access for modelling purposes.

4. Further develop rabies models.
A current model on fox-raccoon dog rabies spread will be further investigated to determine the effect of hibernation of disease epidemiology and control. This will allow the development of bat/Lyssavirus computer models to investigate the spread of EBLVs and the potential spread and control of other Lyssaviruses.

5. Genetic bat speciation.
This involves collecting European tissue samples of British bat species, and tissue samples from non-British species of potential interest to the UK, to permit future bats to be speciated without reliance on expert opinion.

6. Bat ecology.
The mating and seasonal movement, and dispersal, of bats is likely to be primarily responsible for the spread of Lyssaviruses. Field projects to investigate such movements are necessary to determine the potential rates of disease spread.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Final report   (834k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2006

To: 2009

Cost: £483,945
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Central Science Laboratory
Animal Health              
Plants and Animals              
Fields of Study
Animal Health