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Did vaccination slow the spread of bluetongue in France?

Pioz M., Guis H., Pleydell D., Gay E., Calavas D., Durand B., Ducrot C., Lancelot R., Sutton R.. 2014. PloS One, 9 (1) : 12 p..

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085444

Vaccination is one of the most efficient ways to control the spread of infectious diseases. Simulations are now widely used to assess how vaccination can limit disease spread as well as mitigate morbidity or mortality in susceptible populations. However, field studies investigating how much vaccines decrease the velocity of epizootic wave-fronts during outbreaks are rare. This study aimed at investigating the effect of vaccination on the propagation of bluetongue, a vector-borne disease of ruminants. We used data from the 2008 bluetongue virus serotype 1 (BTV-1) epizootic of southwest France. As the virus was newly introduced in this area, natural immunity of livestock was absent. This allowed determination of the role of vaccination in changing the velocity of bluetongue spread while accounting for environmental factors that possibly influenced it. The average estimated velocity across the country despite restriction on animal movements was 5.4 km/day, which is very similar to the velocity of spread of the bluetongue virus serotype 8 epizootic in France also estimated in a context of restrictions on animal movements. Vaccination significantly reduced the propagation velocity of BTV-1. In comparison to municipalities with no vaccine coverage, the velocity of BTV-1 spread decreased by 1.7 km/day in municipalities with immunized animals. For the first time, the effect of vaccination has been quantified using data from a real epizootic whilst accounting for environmental factors known to modify the velocity of bluetongue spread. Our findings emphasize the importance of vaccination in limiting disease spread across natural landscape. Finally, environmental factors, specifically those related to vector abundance and activity, were found to be good predictors of the velocity of BTV-1 spread, indicating that these variables need to be adequately accounted for when evaluating the role of vaccination on bluetongue spread.

Mots-clés : vaccination; contrôle de maladies; transmission des maladies; virus bluetongue; fièvre catarrhale du mouton; sérologie; facteur du milieu; modèle; bétail; ruminant; france

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