Dynamics of a feline virus with two transmission modes within exponentially growing host populations

Kevin Berthier, Michel Langlais, Pierre Auger, Dominique Pontier

Abstract

Feline panleucopenia virus (FPLV) was introduced in 1977 on Marion Island (in the southern Indian Ocean) with the aim of eradicating the cat population and provoked a huge decrease in the host population within six years. The virus can be transmitted either directly through contacts between infected and healthy cats or indirectly between a healthy cat and the contaminated environment: a specific feature of the virus is its high rate of survival outside the host. In this paper, a model was designed in order to take these two modes of transmission into account. The results showed that a mass-action incidence assumption was more appropriate than a proportionate mixing one in describing the dynamics of direct transmission. Under certain conditions the virus was able to control the host population at a low density. The indirect transmission acted as a reservoir supplying the host population with a low but sufficient density of infected individuals which allowed the virus to persist. The dynamics of the infection were more affected by the demographic parameters of the healthy hosts than by the epidemiological ones. Thus, demographic parameters should be precisely measured in field studies in order to obtain accurate predictions. The predicted results of our model were in good agreement with observations.