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Mammalian vectors of exotic diseases, including rabies - SE0430

The Defra policies of “protecting animal health and preventing disease” and “protecting animal welfare” are both helped by avoiding the incursion of exotic diseases, which may infect livestock or wildlife.
Rabies is one of many exotic wildlife diseases which threaten the UK. The OIE lists rabies, Echinococcus multilocularis and Trichinella infection as notifiable, amongst others. The current wildlife rabies contingency plan is very well developed, and has been repeatedly tested in numerous training exercises. This plan involves both the logistical aspects of eradication in wildlife and the predictive simulation modelling to enable a geographically specific contingency plan to be developed. The team responsible for putting the plan into action will be working on this research project to ensure the wildlife diseases contingency plan is refined, improved and broadened to include as many exotic diseases as possible.
We propose that this work will progress in these two related areas to permit our current rabies response to be adapted for a more generic wildlife disease situation, as well as ensuring that the rabies contingency plan stays up to date. This will significantly increase our ability to respond to and control any wildlife disease incursion, and the ability to respond timely and proportionately will minimise any upstream costs to government and the taxpayer of new diseases becoming endemic. Additionally, this ability to minimise the time to disease eradication will reduce the time that businesses remain under official restrictions.
The establishment and spread of the OIE listed diseases above will probably be heavily dependent on the urban fox density, since this is the greatest opportunity for introduction of infection, allied with the highest available densities. We propose to update urban fox density data by collaborating with ongoing studies. We also propose to refine all mammalian density estimates based on available systematic data collection to ensure that the underlying data for wildlife diseases are available.
Computer modelling for exotic disease management is a growing area, and we plan to investigate the potential for eradication of exotic disease other than rabies.
1. Exotic disease modelling British bats. Simulate Lyssavirus spread in British bat species, using known behavioural characteristics to determine which species are most likely to be able to spread exotic viral diseases.
2. Ongoing evaluation of urban fox density. Continue working with ongoing annual student project results to improve the evaluation of urban fox density in Britain.
3. Examine the spread of rabies in a fox/cat model. Using the latest data on urban cat density, determine the risks to domestic cats from the epidemiology of fox rabies in urban and rural areas.
4. Echinococcus contingency modelling. Simulate the introduction, spread and control of Echinococcus multilocularis into Britain to determine options for the eradication of exotic parasitic diseases in foxes.
5. Continue to collate and refine British mammal density data. To aid in the evaluation of exotic disease spread in British mammals, we will collate available information on abundance and density to refine systematic estimates.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2018

Cost: £185,318
Contractor / Funded Organisations
APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency)
Animal Health              
Fields of Study
Animal Health