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Optimal reactive vaccination strategies for a foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK


Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the UK provides an ideal opportunity to explore optimal control measures for an infectious disease. The presence of fine-scale spatio-temporal data for the 2001 epidemic has allowed the development of epidemiological models that are more accurate than those generally created for other epidemics1,2,3,4,5 and provide the opportunity to explore a variety of alternative control measures. Vaccination was not used during the 2001 epidemic; however, the recent DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) contingency plan6 details how reactive vaccination would be considered in future. Here, using the data from the 2001 epidemic, we consider the optimal deployment of limited vaccination capacity in a complex heterogeneous environment. We use a model of FMD spread to investigate the optimal deployment of reactive ring vaccination of cattle constrained by logistical resources. The predicted optimal ring size is highly dependent upon logistical constraints but is more robust to epidemiological parameters. Other ways of targeting reactive vaccination can significantly reduce the epidemic size; in particular, ignoring the order in which infections are reported and vaccinating those farms closest to any previously reported case can substantially reduce the epidemic. This strategy has the advantage that it rapidly targets new foci of infection and that determining an optimal ring size is unnecessary.

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Figure 1: Epidemic impact (number of farms infected and culled).
Figure 2: The optimal vaccination radius and the associated epidemic impact.


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This research was supported by the Wellcome Trust. Author Contributions M.J.T. and M.J.K. were responsible for the model formulation and analysis of results; N.J.S. provided helpful discussions throughout; D.J.S. generated cleaned demographic and epidemic data; R.D. and S.P.B. provided vital statistical input; M.E.J.W. and B.T.G. were instrumental in the initial development of the project. All authors contributed to the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Matt J. Keeling.

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Reprints and permissions information is available at The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Notes

This file provides extra details of model formalism and parameterisation, the robustness of optimal outside-in ring vaccination strategies, and a comparison of shortest-distance and outside-in prioritisation strategies. (PDF 605 kb)

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Tildesley, M., Savill, N., Shaw, D. et al. Optimal reactive vaccination strategies for a foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK. Nature 440, 83–86 (2006).

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