Simulating the Spread of an Outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in California   [open pdf - 4MB]

From the thesis abstract: "Foot and mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting cloven-hoofed domestic and some wild animals. A hypothetical outbreak of FMD begun in California was recently estimated to have a national impact of up to $55 billion, mostly due to international trade restrictions (Carpenter, O'Brien, Hagerman, & McCarl, 2011). Therefore, preparedness for an outbreak is a high priority within the livestock industry, and state and federal government. We use simulation and a designed experiment to identify robust governmental and industrial surveillance response strategies to control the spread of FMD. A strategy is considered robust if it is effective across a number of outbreak scenarios and a variety of disease spread characteristics. The main contributions of this thesis are: (1) the development of FMD outbreak scenarios across California that can be used in conjunction with a state-of-the-art, animal disease simulation model, and (2) the development and analysis of an efficient experimental design that allows for the identification of key parameters affecting the spread and containment of an FMD outbreak. The analysis of over 400,000 simulations in the experimental design indicates two key areas for the control of FMD: (1) surveillance activities at dairy and dairy-like premises are a dominant factor in early identification of the disease and increased surveillance leads to lower impacts of an outbreak; and (2) fast initial response and capacity of depopulation resources are also key factors in controlling an FMD outbreak, even when no preemptive depopulation strategies are considered."

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