The contribution of genetic diversity to the spread of infectious diseases in livestock populations

A.J. Springbett, K. MacKenzie, John Woolliams, Stephen Bishop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article uses stochastic simulations with a compartmental epidemic model to quantify the impact of genetic diversity within animal populations on the transmission of infectious disease. Genetic diversity is defined by the number of distinct genotypes in the population conferring resistance to microparasitic (e.g., viral or bacterial) infections. Scenarios include homogeneous populations and populations composed of few (finite-locus model) or many (infinitesimal model) genotypes. Genetic heterogeneity has no impact upon the expected value of the basic reproductive ratio (the primary description of the transmission of infection) but affects the variability of this parameter. Consequently, increasing genetic heterogeneity is associated with an increased probability of minor epidemics and decreased probabilities of both major (catastrophic) epidemics and no epidemics. Additionally, heterogeneity per se is associated with a breakdown in the expected relationship between the basic reproductive ratio and epidemic severity, which has been developed for homogeneous populations, with increasing heterogeneity generally resulting in fewer infected animals than expected. Furthermore, increased heterogeneity is associated with decreased disease-dependent mortality in major epidemics and a complex trend toward decreased duration of these epidemics. In summary, more heterogeneous populations are not expected to suffer fewer epidemics on average, but are less likely to suffer catastrophic epidemics.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1465-1474
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • epidemiologic models

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