Phylodynamic analysis of an emergent Mycobacterium bovis outbreak in an area with no previously known wildlife infections

Gianluigi Rossi, Joseph Crispell, Tanis Brough, Samantha Lycett, Piran C. L. White, Adrian Allen, Richard J. Ellis, Stephen V. Gordon, Roland Harwood, Eleftheria Palkopoulou, Eleanor L. Presho, Robin Skuce, Graham C. Smith, Rowland Kao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Understanding how an emergent pathogen successfully establishes itself and persists in a previously unaffected population is a crucial problem in disease ecology, with important implications for disease management. In multi-host pathogen systems this problem is particularly difficult, as the importance of each host species to transmission is often poorly characterised, and the disease epidemiology is complex. Opportunities to observe and analyse such emergent scenarios are few.
2. Here, we exploit a unique dataset combining densely-collected data on the epidemiological and evolutionary characteristics of an outbreak of Mycobacterium bovis (the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis, bTB) in a population of cattle and badgers in an area considered low-risk for bTB, with no previous record of either persistent infection in cattle, or of any infection in wildlife. We analyse the outbreak dynamics using a combination of mathematical modelling, Bayesian evolutionary analyses, and machine learning.
3. Comparison to M. bovis whole-genome sequences from Northern Ireland confirmed this to be a single introduction of the pathogen from the latter region, with evolutionary analysis supporting an introduction directly into the local cattle population six years prior to its first discovery in badgers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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