Outbreaks of notifiable infectious animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever and avian influenza, have major societal and economic consequences. Fortunately, such animal diseases occur infrequently in the Netherlands. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR) contributes to this status by designing risk-based surveillance systems.
Early detection systems
Rapid detection of an introduced infectious animal disease is crucial for prevention of spreading of the disease among the population. Obviously, if a pathogen is able to freely circulate for a long period, this increases the risk that the disease will spread to other farms, making control of the epidemic difficult. Previous experience with epidemics in The Netherlands emphasized the importance of early detection. Therefore, WBVR focuses on systems for detecting and identifying disease introductions as soon as possible, including mathematical modelling of disease outbreaks.
Evaluation of control strategies
Mathematical models can be used to compare the effect of various control strategies to contain the epidemics of infectious diseases. By simulating large number of outbreaks, and introducing different control strategies, the effects of these strategies can be compared in silico. Wageningen Bioveterinary Research has extensive experience with these computationally intensive methods that can be used to answer a wide range of questions. Results can be used to estimate the economic impact of control measures, can help to evaluate control measures and can assist policy makers during epidemics.