Mathematical modelling is a central element in most of the research at the epidemiology group. The modelling approach depends on the specific research question, the animal disease and the available data. The group always aims to develop the model that is best suited to the research question at hand and the type of data that is available to quantify model parameters.
A key concept in epidemiology is the basic reproduction number R0, which expresses the number of successful infections caused by a single infected animal in a fully susceptible population. If R0 > 1, pathogen introduction can expand to become a large-scale epidemic, but if R0 < 1, outbreaks will come to an end without affecting many animals.
As one of its innovative policy tools, Wageningen Bioveterinary Research has developed the 'disease spread risk map'. Based on actual disease outbreak data, such maps show the calculated reproduction number between farms (red: R0 > 1 and yellow: R0 < 1). In this way, the regional and national risks following the introduction of an animal disease become clear at a glance.