Reanalysis of the start of the UK 1967 to 1968 foot-and-mouth disease epidemic to calculate airborne transmission probabilities

The aims of this study were to statistically reassess the likelihood that windborne spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) virus (FMDV) occurred at the start of the UK 1967 to 1968 FMD epidemic at Oswestry, Shropshire, and to derive dose-response probability of infection curves for farms exposed to airborne FMDV. To enable this, data on all farms present in 1967 in the parishes near Oswestry were assembled. Cases were infected premises whose date of appearance of first clinical signs was within 14 days of the depopulation of the index farm. Logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between infection status and distance and direction from the index farm. The UK Met Office's NAME atmospheric dispersion model (ADM) was used to generate plumes for each day that FMDV was excreted from the index farm based on actual historical weather records from October 1967. Daily airborne FMDV exposure rates for all farms in the study area were calculated using a geographical information system. Probit analyses were used to calculate dose-response probability of infection curves to FMDV, using relative exposure rates on case and control farms. Both the logistic regression and probit analyses gave strong statistical support to the hypothesis that airborne spread occurred. There was some evidence that incubation period was inversely proportional to the exposure rate.

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