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Spatial pattern formation facilitates eradication of infectious diseases
Article first published online: 10 JAN 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 British Ecological Society
Journal of Applied Ecology
Volume 45, Issue 2, pages 415–423, April 2008
How to Cite
Eisinger, D. and Thulke, H.-H. (2008), Spatial pattern formation facilitates eradication of infectious diseases. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45: 415–423. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01439.x
- Issue published online: 10 JAN 2008
- Article first published online: 10 JAN 2008
- Received 10 August 2006; accepted 25 October 2007Handling Editor: E. J. Milner-Gulland
- management target;
- pattern-orientated modelling;
- spatial heterogeneity;
- 1Control of animal-born diseases is a major challenge faced by applied ecologists and public health managers. To improve cost-effectiveness, the effort required to control such pathogens needs to be predicted as accurately as possible. In this context, we reviewed the anti-rabies vaccination schemes applied around the world during the past 25 years.
- 2We contrasted predictions from classic approaches based on theoretical population ecology (which governs rabies control to date) with a newly developed individual-based model. Our spatially explicit approach allowed for the reproduction of pattern formation emerging from a pathogen's spread through its host population.
- 3We suggest that a much lower management effort could eliminate the disease than that currently in operation. This is supported by empirical evidence from historic field data. Adapting control measures to the new prediction would save one-third of resources in future control programmes.
- 4The reason for the lower prediction is the spatial structure formed by spreading infections in spatially arranged host populations. It is not the result of technical differences between models.
- 5Synthesis and applications. For diseases predominantly transmitted by neighbourhood interaction, our findings suggest that the emergence of spatial structures facilitates eradication. This may have substantial implications for the cost-effectiveness of existing disease management schemes, and suggests that when planning management strategies consideration must be given to methods that reflect the spatial nature of the pathogen–host system.