Within Wageningen Bioveterinary Research (WBVR), mathematical models are often used to model animal disease outbreaks. The introduction of a notifiable animal disease requires a swift response to control the epidemic. At the start of an epidemic, the data available is often sparse and incomplete, which creates uncertainty about the nature, severity and scale of the problem. Nevertheless, decisions about the implementation of disease control strategies still have to be made.
Predicting effect of interventions
Using the parameters as determined by the Department of Epidemiology, the modelling specialists generate mathematical models for epidemics of infectious diseases which are tested, modified, approved and applied.
These mathematical models have several areas of application. First of all it allows researchers to extrapolate the effects of interventions in silico without testing the scenarios in a field study. This is time effective and therefore very economical. Examples are the ability to test the effects of local vaccination or closing roads for traffic.
Secondly these models allow policy makers to decide upon the best action to limit or control the outbreak by implementing the most economic and or most effective corrective measures. In this way WBVR makes an important contribution to the effective prevention and control of animal diseases. Several epidemiological models have been developed to model epidemics and support policy makers in their decisions.
The following epidemiological models (based on mathematical modelling) are available:
- EpiTool Intro estimates the data of disease introduction on a farm in order to support tracing of contacts.
- EpiTool R estimates the expected number of infected but not yet detected cases and helps to decide when to scale-up the eradication campaign.
- EpiTool Riskmap produces a map showing the risk that a farm will infect other farms, if it would become infected.
- EpiTool Size predicts the final size and duration of an epidemic using a simulation model, using the current status of the epidemic as a starting point.
- EpiTool Intervention evaluates the effect of different intervention strategies such as vaccination and pre-emptive culling on the development of an epidemic.
- EpiTool SourceMap identifies the farms that are most likely the source of human cases of a zoonotic disease.