Using epidemiological mathematical models to understand the transmission dynamics of bovine tuberculosis in buffalo and cattle populations.
In South Africa, buffalo are the maintenance hosts of Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis), a pathogen that causes bovine tuberculosis in wildlife and domesticated animals. To understand the transmission dynamics of M. bovis, mathematical epidemiological models are developed. The models address various questions about the transmission dynamics of bovine tuberculosis in both buffalo and cattle populations. The key questions addressed by the models are: can buffalo carriers fuel the re-occurance of bovine tuberculosis in buffalo population? Is the cross- infection transmission route responsible for the persistence of bovine tuberculosis in cattle population? Can the movement of buffalo from one patch to another be the reason for the spread of bovine tuberculosis in Kruger National Park? These questions are addressed in Chapters 2, 3 and 4 respectively. Both the mathematical and numerical analysis suggest that the infection parameters associated with buffalo carriers and cross-infection and movement parameters associated with the movement of susceptible and exposed buffalo from one patch to another are among the key drivers of bovine tuberculosis in buffalo and cattle populations. The findings have very vital implications for bovine tuberculosis control. If bovine tuberculosis is to be eliminated, there is need to develop tests that can detect buffalo carriers from buffalo population. This will accelerate the eradication of bovine tuberculosis (BTB) infection from the buffalo population. Measures need to be taken to prevent the mixing of cattle and buffalo populations at the interface and also restrict the movement of bufffalo from one patch to another in Kruger National Park.
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