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Collection of empirical equine contact network data to quantify the effect of non-homogenous mixing patterns on disease dynamics in Ontario

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Title: Collection of empirical equine contact network data to quantify the effect of non-homogenous mixing patterns on disease dynamics in Ontario
Author: Milwid, Rachael
Department: Department of Population Medicine
Program: Population Medicine
Advisor: Greer, AmyO'Sullivan, Terri
Abstract: This thesis assessed the suitability of using homogeneous mixing to describe the contact structure of different equine populations in Canada, and the associated effects on disease dynamics within the respective populations. This was accomplished by the development of an appropriate contact data collection method for animal agricultural settings, the collection of equine contact data, and the characterization of the equine contact networks and the corresponding disease spread dynamics. Traditional radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags were modified to enable data storage on the tags’ flash memory. The modified tags were deployed to collect contact pattern data from 4 equine facilities in Ontario. The collected data were used to generate contact networks that were analyzed with both traditional and non-traditional network analysis techniques. The contact networks were used to inform the contact rate of a network epidemic model that was used to quantify the effect of different network structures on the epidemiological outcomes. The model had a typical SEIR structure and incorporated both vaccination and isolation. Equine influenza was used as a case study. The thesis resulted in several important outcomes. First, the modified RFID technology provided a feasible method for contact data collection, specifically in animal agricultural settings. Second, the contact networks exhibited similar traits across facilities, such as patterns in the relative degree centrality and a failure to satisfy the assumption of homogenous mixing. Third, the empirical contact networks resulted in epidemic curves with similar epidemic durations, peak times, and peak heights when used to inform the contact rate of the network epidemic model. Furthermore, differences in the incidence curves were observed when comparing the empirical networks to theoretical networks such as a homogenous mixing network. Overall, the results indicated that while it is important to use empirical contact data for the characterization of disease dynamics within populations, it is possible to generalize the disease dynamics and associated biosecurity strategies for equine facilities with similar characteristics. The improved understanding gained from this research regarding contact data collection and analysis and the importance of empirical networks in the simulation of disease dynamics enables the improved ability to inform equine biosecurity strategies.
Date: 2018-08
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada