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A network-based approach to modelling bluetongue spread in France

Abstract : Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) was reported for the first time in Europe in 2006, causing the largest bluetongue outbreak ever recorded. France was mostly impacted in 2007/09. Trade restrictions were implemented all along. Vaccination became available from 2008: a limited number of doses was first administered in an emergency vaccination campaign, followed by two nationwide compulsory vaccination campaigns in 2009 and 2010. France regained a disease-free status in December 2012, but BTV may have kept circulating undetected as infected herds have been reported again since August 2015. We developed a stochastic dynamic compartmental model of BTV transmission in cattle and sheep to analyze the relative importance of vector active flight and host movements in disease spread, and assess the effectiveness of control measures. We represented BTV transmission both within and between French administrative subdivisions called cantons, during the 2007/09 outbreak and until the end of 2010, when compulsory vaccination was interrupted. Within-canton transmission was vector-borne, and between canton transmission could occur through three contact networks that accounted for movements of: (i) vectors between pastures located at close distance; (ii) cattle and sheep between pastures of the same farm; (iii) traded cattle. We estimated the model parameters by approximate Bayesian computation, using data from the 2007 French outbreak. With this framework, we were able to reproduce the BTV-8 epizootic wave. Host movements between distant pastures of the same farm were found to have a major contribution to BTV spread to disease-free areas, thus raising practical questions about herd management during outbreaks. We found that cattle trade restrictions had been well complied with; without them, the whole French territory would have been infected by winter 2007. The 2008 emergency vaccination campaign had little impact on disease spread as almost half vaccine doses had likely been administered to already immune cattle. Alternatively, establishing a vaccination buffer zone would have allowed a better control of BTV in 2008: limiting its spatial expansion and decreasing the number of infected cattle and sheep. We also showed a major role of compulsory vaccination in controlling the outbreak in 2009 and 2010, though we predicted a possible low-level circulation after the last detection.
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Submitted on : Friday, September 3, 2021 - 10:22:50 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, September 4, 2021 - 3:29:49 AM

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Noémie Courtejoie, Simon Cauchemez, Gina Zanella, Benoît Durand. A network-based approach to modelling bluetongue spread in France. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Elsevier, 2019, 170, pp.104744. ⟨10.1016/j.prevetmed.2019.104744⟩. ⟨pasteur-03333652⟩

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