Inferences about the transmission of lumpy skin disease virus between herds from outbreaks in Albania in 2016

Lumpy skin disease has recently emerged as a major threat to cattle populations outside of Africa, where it is endemic. In 2015 the first ever European outbreaks occurred in Greece, which were followed by spread across much of the Balkans in 2016. Here we use a simple mathematical model for the transmission of lumpy skin disease virus (LSDV) between herds to explore factors influencing its spread by fitting it to data on outbreaks in Albania in 2016. We show that most transmission occurs over short distances (<5 km), but with an appreciable probability of transmission at longer distances. We also show that there is evidence for seasonal variation in the force of infection associated with temperature, possibly through its influence on the relative abundance of the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans. These two results together are consistent with LSDV being transmitted by the bites of blood-feeding insects, though further work is required to incriminate specific species as vectors. Finally, we show that vaccination has a significant impact on spread and estimate the vaccine effectiveness to be 76%.

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