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Quantitative analysis of transmission parameters for bluetongue virus serotype 8 in Western Europe in 2006

Aline A de Koeijer1*, Gert Jan Boender1, Gonnie Nodelijk1, Christoph Staubach2, Estelle Meroc3 and Armin RW Elbers1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, Crisis management and Diagnostics, Central Veterinary Institute (CVI), part of Wageningen UR, P.O. Box 65, NL-8200 AB Lelystad, The Netherlands

2 Friedrich-Loeffler Institut, Institute of Epidemiology, Wusterhausen, Germany

3 Veterinary and Agrochemical Research Centre (VAR-CODA-CERVA), Brussels, Belgium

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Veterinary Research 2011, 42:53  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-42-53

Published: 24 March 2011


The recent bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) epidemic in Western Europe struck hard. Controlling the infection was difficult and a good and safe vaccine was not available until the spring of 2008. Little was known regarding BTV transmission in Western Europe or the efficacy of control measures. Quantitative details on transmission are essential to assess the potential and efficacy of such measures.

To quantify virus transmission between herds, a temporal and a spatio-temporal analysis were applied to data on reported infected herds in 2006. We calculated the basic reproduction number between herds (Rh: expected number of new infections, generated by one initial infected herd in a susceptible environment). It was found to be of the same order of magnitude as that of an infection with Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in The Netherlands, e.g. around 4. We concluded that an average day temperature of at least 15°C is required for BTV-8 transmission between herds in Western Europe. A few degrees increase in temperature is found to lead to a major increase in BTV-8 transmission.

We also found that the applied disease control (spatial zones based on 20 km radius restricting animal transport to outside regions) led to a spatial transmission pattern of BTV-8, with 85% of transmission restricted to a 20 km range. This 20 km equals the scale of the protection zones. We concluded that free animal movement led to substantial faster spread of the BTV-8 epidemic over space as compared to a situation with animal movement restrictions.