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Proc Biol Sci. 2004 Aug 7;271(1548):1547-55.

The effects of strain heterology on the epidemiology of equine influenza in a vaccinated population.

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


We assess the effects of strain heterology (strains that are immunologically similar but not identical) on equine influenza in a vaccinated population. Using data relating to individual animals, for both homologous and heterologous vaccinees, we estimate distributions for the latent and infectious periods, quantify the risk of becoming infected in terms of the quantity of cross-reactive antibodies to a key surface protein of the virus (haemagglutinin) and estimate the probability of excreting virus (i.e. becoming infectious) given that infection has occurred. The data suggest that the infectious period, the risk of becoming infected (for a given vaccine-induced level of cross-reactive antibodies) and the probability of excreting virus are increased for heterologously vaccinated animals when compared with homologously vaccinated animals. The data are used to parameterize a modified susceptible, exposed, infectious and recovered/resistant (SEIR) model, which shows that these relatively small differences combine to have a large effect at the population level, where populations of heterologous vaccinees face a significantly increased risk of an epidemic occurring.

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