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

Nature volume 440, pages 8386 (02 March 2006) | Download Citation



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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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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  1. Department of Biological Sciences and Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, Gibbet Hill Road, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK

    • Michael J. Tildesley
    •  & Matt J. Keeling
  2. Statistical Laboratory, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge, Wilberforce Road, Cambridge CB3 0WB, UK

    • Nicholas J. Savill
    • , Rob Deardon
    •  & Stephen P. Brooks
  3. Epidemiology Group, Centre for Infectious Diseases, University of Edinburgh, Ashworth Laboratories, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JF, UK

    • Nicholas J. Savill
    •  & Mark E. J. Woolhouse
  4. Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK

    • Darren J. Shaw
  5. Cambridge Infectious Diseases Consortium, Centre for Veterinary Science, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ES, UK

    • Rob Deardon
  6. Center for Infectious Diseases Dynamics, Biology Department 208, Mueller Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802, USA

    • Bryan T. Grenfell
  7. Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA

    • Bryan T. Grenfell


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Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matt J. Keeling.

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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.

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