Comparison of pre-emptive and reactive strategies to control an incursion of bluetongue virus serotype 1 to Great Britain by vaccination

Bluetongue (BT) is a disease of ruminants caused by bluetongue virus (BTV), which is spread between its hosts by Culicoides midges. Vaccination is the most effective way to protect susceptible animals against BTV and was used reactively to control the recent northern European outbreak. To assess the consequences of using vaccination pre-emptively we used a stochastic, spatially explicit model to compare reactive and pre-emptive vaccination strategies against an incursion of BTV serotype 1 (BTV-1) into Great Britain. Both pre-emptive and reactive vaccination significantly reduced the number of affected farms and limited host morbidity and mortality. In addition, vaccinating prior to the introduction of disease reduced the probability of an outbreak occurring. Of the strategies simulated, widespread reactive vaccination resulted in the lowest levels of morbidity. The predicted effects of vaccination were found to be sensitive to vaccine efficacy but not to the choice of transmission kernel.

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