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Spatial spread of rabies in wildlife

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Rabies disease remains enzootic among raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats in the United States. It is of primary concern for public-health agencies to control spatial spread of rabies in wildlife

Rabies disease remains enzootic among raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats in the United States. It is of primary concern for public-health agencies to control spatial spread of rabies in wildlife and its potential spillover infection of domestic animals and humans. Rabies is invariably fatal in wildlife if untreated, with a non-negligible incubation period. Understanding how this latency affects spatial spread of rabies in wildlife is the concern of chapter 2 and 3. Chapter 1 deals with the background of mathematical models for rabies and lists main objectives. In chapter 2, a reaction-diffusion susceptible-exposed-infected (SEI) model and a delayed diffusive susceptible-infected (SI) model are constructed to describe the same epidemic process -- rabies spread in foxes. For the delayed diffusive model a non-local infection term with delay is resulted from modeling the dispersal during incubation stage. Comparison is made regarding minimum traveling wave speeds of the two models, which are verified using numerical experiments. In chapter 3, starting with two Kermack and McKendrick's models where infectivity, death rate and diffusion rate of infected individuals can depend on the age of infection, the asymptotic speed of spread $c^\ast$ for the cumulated force of infection can be analyzed. For the special case of fixed incubation period, the asymptotic speed of spread is governed by the same integral equation for both models. Although explicit solutions for $c^\ast$ are difficult to obtain, assuming that diffusion coefficient of incubating animals is small, $c^\ast$ can be estimated in terms of model parameter values. Chapter 4 considers the implementation of realistic landscape in simulation of rabies spread in skunks and bats in northeast Texas. The Finite Element Method (FEM) is adopted because the irregular shapes of realistic landscape naturally lead to unstructured grids in the spatial domain. This implementation leads to a more accurate description of skunk rabies cases distributions.

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  • 2013