Royal Society Publishing


We present a model of a control programme for a disease outbreak in a population of livestock holdings. Control is achieved by culling infectious holdings when they are discovered and by the pre–emptive culling of livestock on holdings deemed to be at enhanced risk of infection. Because the pre–emptive control programme cannot directly identify exposed holdings, its implementation will result in the removal of both infected and uninfected holdings. This leads to a fundamental trade–off: increased levels of control produce a greater reduction in transmission by removing more exposed holdings, but increase the number of uninfected holdings culled. We derive an expression for the total number of holdings culled during the course of an outbreak and demonstrate that there is an optimal control policy, which minimizes this loss. Using a metapopulation model to incorporate local clustering of infection, we examine a neighbourhood control programme in a locally spreading outbreak. We find that there is an optimal level of control, which increases with increasing basic reproduction ratio, R0; moreover, implementation of control may be optimal even when R0< 1. The total loss to the population is relatively insensitive to the level of control as it increases beyond the optimal level, suggesting that over–control is a safer policy than under–control.

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