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Thursday 03 Dec 2015Statistical Science Seminar: "TB or not TB?"

TJ McKinley - University of Exeter (Cornwall Campus)

H101 14:30-16:30

Bovine tuberculosis (bTB) is one of the most important diseases of livestock affecting Great Britain, costing the UK taxpayer upwards of 100 million per year in surveillance and compensation; notwithstanding the severe socio-economic impacts of the disease on farmers. Despite intensive surveillance, the incidence of the disease is still increasing, and control is hampered by the presence of a wildlife reservoir of infection, the Eurasian badger (Meles meles).

In the face of a large research effort, there are still key epidemiological parameters that are not well understood, such as the relative impacts of cattle-to-cattle transmission and infection from the environment, and the degree of hidden infections in the system. Mapping the underlying epidemiological mechanisms to the observed data is particularly challenging due to the size and complexity of the system, and the presence of a large number of hidden states resulting form the imperfect sensitivities and specificities of the surveillance processes. This project seeks to develop a longitudinal statistical model of bTB transmission, that incorporates individual cattle movements (between farms in the network) as well as detailed, spatially explicit background risk-of-infection terms. The ultimate aim is to develop a framework within which we can contrast and compare different epidemiological models for this disease, in order to improve our understanding regarding the mechanisms of spread and the impacts of potential control options.

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