In the Transmission Biology group we aim to understand how viruses are transmitted between animals. We are particularly interested in quantifying the rates of transmission by different routes and so determining their relative importance. This is essential to help target and prioritize measures for controlling disease spread.
The aim of the group is to quantify the roles and rates of transmission between animals by different routes and assess their consequences for disease spread and control. We use experimental approaches to measure the amount of virus produced by infected animals and whether or not they transmit infection. We then use mathematical models to explore the implications of our data for disease spread. In our work on airborne spread of viruses we work in close collaboration with the Met Office to investigate the risk of airborne infection.
Our main focus is currently the indirect transmission of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) between cattle through aerosols and fomites. In particular, we are quantifying the rate of FMDV transmission by indirect routes through a series of experimental infections, including exposure of naïve animals to contaminated environments and to aerosols.
We use the outputs from the experiments to develop methods and tools to aid early detection of infected animals and farms. This will help to improve surveillance and the control of FMDV through rapid detection of infected farms during outbreaks.
This work is funded by Defra project SE2815: Developing improved methods to quantify transmission of foot-and-mouth disease virus and to prevent this by use of preclinical sampling and novel vaccines.
We use the data generated in our experiments to understand how best to prevent transmission and how to detect infected farms as rapidly as possible to minimise the risk they pose to other farms.
We provide advice on disease spread and control to various national and international organisations, including Defra, Scottish Government and the European Food Safety Authority.