A priori prediction of disease invasion dynamics in a novel environment.
ABSTRACT: Directly transmitted infectious diseases spread through wildlife populations as travelling waves away from the sites of original introduction. These waves often become distorted through their interaction with environmental and population heterogeneities and by long-distance translocation of infected individuals. Accurate a priori predictions of travelling waves of infection depend upon understanding and quantifying these distorting factors. We assess the effects of anisotropies arising from the orientation of rivers in relation to the direction of disease-front propagation and the damming effect of mountains on disease movement in natural populations. The model successfully predicts the local and large-scale prevaccination spread of raccoon rabies through New York State, based on a previous spatially heterogeneous model of raccoon-rabies invasion across the state of Connecticut. Use of this model provides a rare example of a priori prediction of an epidemic invasion over a naturally heterogeneous landscape. Model predictions matched to data can also be used to evaluate the most likely points of disease introduction. These results have general implications for predicting future pathogen invasions and evaluating potential containment strategies.
Project description:A landscape genetic simulation modelling approach is used to understand factors affecting raccoon rabies disease spread in southern Ontario, Canada. Using the Ontario Rabies Model, we test the hypothesis that landscape configuration (shape of available habitat) affects dispersal, as indicated by genetic structuring. We simulated range expansions of raccoons from New York into vacant landscapes in Ontario, in two areas that differed by the presence or absence of a landscape constriction. Our results provide theoretical evidence that landscape constriction acts as a vicariant bottleneck. We discuss implications for raccoon rabies spread.
Project description:Background:Raccoon rabies is caused by a variant of the rabies virus found in raccoons but transmissible to other mammalian species, including humans. The disease of rabies caused by raccoon variant rabies virus is indistinguishable from rabies caused by other rabies virus variants. Objective:This paper describes the raccoon rabies outbreak in Ontario (identified in December 2015) and the control measures undertaken to curb the spread of the epizootic using the One Health approach. Investigation and Results:Representatives from local, provincial and federal agencies collectively activated a raccoon rabies response that involved policy updates, enhanced surveillance, a public education campaign and mass vaccination of wildlife and domestic animals. Between December 2015 and June 2017, 338 animals tested positive for raccoon rabies in Ontario. While the majority of the cases were raccoons, there was significant spillover into striped skunks, as well as other species including two cats, a fox and a llama. Viral genome sequencing determined that this epizootic was likely caused by long-distance translocation from the United States. Conclusion:This outbreak of raccoon rabies is by far the largest to have occurred in Canada and the first raccoon rabies outbreak documented in a densely populated urban area. This is also the first time this rabies virus variant has been identified in a domestic animal in Canada. A collaborative approach involving numerous stakeholders in the public and private sectors has been instrumental in addressing this epizootic. Though case incidence appears to be declining, several years will likely be required to reach elimination. Continued collaboration between these agencies is necessary to achieve this goal.
Project description:We analyzed how land-use patterns and changes in urbanization influence reported rabid raccoons in Georgia from 2006 - 2010. Using Geographical Information Systems and rabies surveillance data, multivariate analysis was conducted on 15 land-use variables that included natural topography, agricultural development, and urbanization to model positive raccoon rabies cases while controlling for potential raccoon submission bias associated with higher human population densities. Low intensity residential development was positively associated with reported rabid raccoons while a negative association was found with evergreen forest. Evergreen forests may offer a barrier effect where resources are low and raccoon populations are not supported. Areas with pure stands of upland evergreen forest might be utilized in baiting strategies for oral rabies vaccination programs where fewer or no baits may be needed. Their use as a barrier should be considered carefully in a cost-effective strategy for oral rabies vaccination (ORV) programs to contain the western spread of this important zoonotic disease.
Project description:Raccoon rabies remains a serious public health problem throughout much of the eastern seaboard of North America due to the urban nature of the reservoir host and the many challenges inherent in multi-jurisdictional efforts to administer co-ordinated and comprehensive wildlife rabies control programmes. Better understanding of the mechanisms of spread of rabies virus can play a significant role in guiding such control efforts. To facilitate a detailed molecular epidemiological study of raccoon rabies virus movements across eastern North America, we developed a methodology to efficiently determine whole genome sequences of hundreds of viral samples. The workflow combines the generation of a limited number of overlapping amplicons covering the complete viral genome and use of high throughput sequencing technology. The value of this approach is demonstrated through a retrospective phylogenetic analysis of an outbreak of raccoon rabies which occurred in the province of Ontario between 1999 and 2005. As demonstrated by the number of single nucleotide polymorphisms detected, whole genome sequence data were far more effective than single gene sequences in discriminating between samples and this facilitated the generation of more robust and informative phylogenies that yielded insights into the spatio-temporal pattern of viral spread. With minor modification this approach could be applied to other rabies virus variants thereby facilitating greatly improved phylogenetic inference and thus better understanding of the spread of this serious zoonotic disease. Such information will inform the most appropriate strategies for rabies control in wildlife reservoirs.
Project description:Since the 1990s, oral rabies vaccination (ORV) has been used successfully to halt the westward spread of the raccoon rabies virus (RV) variant from the eastern continental USA. Elimination of raccoon RV from the eastern USA has proven challenging across targeted raccoon (<i>Procyon lotor</i>) and striped skunk (<i>Mephitis mephitis</i>) populations impacted by raccoon RV. Field trial evaluations of the Ontario Rabies Vaccine Bait (ONRAB) were initiated to expand ORV products available to meet the rabies management goal of raccoon RV elimination. This study describes the continuation of a 2011 trial in West Virginia. Our objective was to evaluate raccoon and skunk response to ORV occurring in West Virginia for an additional two years (2012-2013) at 75 baits/km<sup>2</sup> followed by three years (2014-2016) of evaluation at 300 baits/km<sup>2</sup>. We measured the change in rabies virus-neutralizing antibody (RVNA) seroprevalence in targeted wildlife populations by comparing levels pre- and post-ORV during each year of study. The increase in bait density from 75/km<sup>2</sup> to 300/km<sup>2</sup> corresponded to an increase in average post-ORV seroprevalence for raccoon and skunk populations. Raccoon population RVNA levels increased from 53% (300/565, 95% CI: 50-57%) to 82.0% (596/727, 95% CI: 79-85%) during this study, and skunk population RVNA levels increased from 11% (8/72, 95% CI: 6-20%) to 39% (51/130, 95% CI: 31-48%). The RVNA seroprevalence pre-ORV demonstrated an increasing trend across study years for both bait densities and species, indicating that multiple years of ORV may be necessary to achieve and maintain RVNA seroprevalence in target wildlife populations for the control and elimination of raccoon RV in the eastern USA.
Project description:In North America, the raccoon-associated variant of rabies virus (RRV) is of special concern, given its relatively rapid spread throughout the eastern USA and its potential public health impact due to high raccoon host densities in urban areas. Northward expansion of this epizootic included an outbreak in the Canadian province of Quebec in 2006-2009 due to trans-border spread from the State of Vermont. To inform a more proactive approach to future control efforts, this study uses phylogenetic analyses to explore the role of geography and alternative carnivore hosts in the dynamics of RRV spread within Vermont. Specifically, we sought to examine whether striped skunks, a species frequently infected by RRV, could be part of the maintenance host community. Whole genome sequencing of 160 RRV samples from Vermont and neighbouring US states were used for fine-scale phylogeographic analyses. Results, together with the complete surveillance record of raccoon rabies since its entry into Vermont in 1994, document incursions by two distinct viral lineages and identify topographical features of the landscape which have significantly influenced viral spread, resulting in a complex distribution pattern of viral variants throughout the state. Results of phylogenetic cluster analysis and discrete state reconstruction contained some evidence of skunk-to-skunk and skunk-to-raccoon transmission but overall failed to support a role for skunks as alternative maintenance hosts.
Project description:In 2004, the raccoon rabies virus variant emerged in Ohio beyond an area where oral rabies vaccine had been distributed to prevent westward spread of this variant. Our genetic investigation indicates that this outbreak may have begun several years before 2004 and may have originated within the vaccination zone.
Project description:Progressive elimination of rabies in wildlife has been a general strategy in Canada and the United States; common campaign tactics are trap-vaccinate-release (TVR), point infection control (PIC), and oral rabies vaccination (ORV). TVR and PIC are labor intensive and the most expensive tactics per unit area (approximately $616/km(2) [in 2008 Can$, converted from the reported $450/km(2) in 1991 Can$] and approximately $612/km(2) [$500/km(2) in 1999 Can$], respectively), but these tactics have proven crucial to elimination of raccoon rabies in Canada and to maintenance of ORV zones for preventing the spread of raccoon rabies in the United States. Economic assessments have shown that during rabies epizootics, costs of human postexposure prophylaxis, pet vaccination, public health, and animal control spike. Modeling studies, involving diverse assumptions, have shown that ORV programs can be cost-efficient and yield benefit:cost ratios >1.0.
Project description:Despite proactive measures to prevent raccoon rabies entering Canada from the United States, several incursions of this disease have occurred. The largest outbreak, first reported in December 2015 in the city of Hamilton, Ontario, has resulted in the reporting of 449 animal cases as of December 31, 2018. Initial phylogenetic studies on the index case suggested that this outbreak was not due to local cross-border spread from the Niagara region of the United States where raccoon rabies has persisted for several years. Phylogenetic analysis of whole genome sequences of a viral collection from the Hamilton area and several US states indicates that a long-distance translocation of a diseased animal from southeastern New York State was responsible for this incursion. The role of the skunk as a potential secondary host supporting persistence and / or spread of the virus is also examined.
Project description:Enhanced rabies surveillance (ERS) is essential for sound oral rabies vaccination (ORV) decisions to prevent the spread of specific rabies virus variants in meso-carnivores and to achieve disease elimination. Use of a direct rapid immunohistochemistry test (dRIT) in North America for timely, accurate rabies diagnosis in the field has facilitated greater ERS emphasis since 2005. ERS used in tandem with exposure-based public health surveillance provides a comprehensive understanding of the geographic distribution of rabies as an aid to formulate effective management strategies for raccoons and other meso-carnivores. In 2015, best management practices were implemented for improving, reinvigorating, and standardizing ERS. A point system for weighing ERS sample categories was evaluated, to determine whether sampling emphasis should be focused upon ill or strange-acting animals, the highest quality category. During 2016, 70.7% of rabid animals detected through ERS in raccoon rabies management states were obtained from strange-acting animals, followed by animals found dead (14.1%), road kills (9.1%), and nuisance-collected specimens (6.1%). Sample category weights may be adjusted based on additional evaluation to ensure continued emphasis on the highest value samples. High quality ERS, in conjunction with serologic evidence of population-based immunity, form the backbone for ORV decisions in the elimination of raccoon rabies.