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J R Soc Interface. 2010 Jan 6;7(42):67-79. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2009.0030. Epub 2009 Apr 1.

Control of equine influenza: scenario testing using a realistic metapopulation model of spread.

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  • 1Animal Health Trust, Lanwades Park, Kentford, Newmarket CB8 7UU, UK.


We present a metapopulation model of the spread of equine influenza among thoroughbred horses parametrized with data from a 2003 outbreak in Newmarket, UK. The number of horses initially susceptible is derived from a threshold theorem and a published statistical model. Two simulated likelihood-based methods are used to find the within- and between-yard transmissions using both exponential and empirical latent and infectious periods. We demonstrate that the 2003 outbreak was largely locally driven and use the parametrized model to address important questions of control. The chance of a large epidemic is shown to be largely dependent on the size of the index yard. The impact of poor responders to vaccination is estimated under different scenarios. A small proportion of poor responders strongly influences the efficiency of vaccine policies, which increases risk further when the vaccine and infecting strains differ following antigenic drift. Finally, the use of vaccinating in the face of an outbreak is evaluated at a global and individual management group level. The benefits for an individual horse trainer are found to be substantial, although this is influenced by the behaviour of other trainers.

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