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Keywords:

  • Bovine tuberculosis;
  • red deer;
  • modelling;
  • Mycobacterium bovis;
  • wild boar;
  • wildlife disease

Summary

In early 2001, Mycobacterium bovis infection was confirmed in red deer (RD) (Cervus elaphus) shot in Normandy region, France. An epidemiological survey conducted during the following hunting season in two connected forests confirmed the occurrence of the disease in both free-ranging RD and wild boar (WB) (Sus scrofa). This was the first detected bovine tuberculosis outbreak in wildlife in France. We present a simple deterministic age-structured model of the within- and between-species M. bovis transmission in RD and WB populations that distinguishes direct transmission (horizontal and pseudo-vertical) and indirect transmission through contaminated offal left behind by hunters. Results issued from the epidemiological surveys conducted in Normandy forests were used to estimate transmission parameters. Because data for RD and WB populations were not available, population sizes at demographic equilibrium were estimated and used to run the model. We qualitatively tested different control measure scenarios with our model, considering different mortality rates and offal harvesting, to determine which ones affect the success of infection control. The most realistic control scenario would combine the total depopulation of RD and good compliance with offal harvesting, because the model suggests that infected offal left by hunters represents the main transmission source of M. bovis in the field.