Confirmation of spatial patterns and temperature effects in Bluetongue virus serotype-8 transmission in NW-Europe from the 2007 reported case data
Two separate analyses were carried out to understand the epidemiology of Bluetongue virus serotype 8 (BTV-8) in 2007 in North West Europe: First, the temporal change in transmission rates was compared to the evolution of temperature during that season. Second, we evaluated the spatio-temporal dynamics of newly reported outbreaks, to estimate a spatial transmission kernel. For both analyses, the approach as used before in analysing the 2006 BTV-8 epidemic had to be adapted in order to take into account the fact that the 2007 epidemic was not a newly arising epidemic, but one advancing from whereto it had already spread in 2006. We found that within the area already affected by the 2006 outbreak, the pattern of newly infected farms in 2007 cannot be explained by between-farm transmission, but rather by local re-emergence of the virus throughout that region. This indicates that persistence through winter was ubiquitous for BTV-8. Just like in 2006, we also found that the temperature at which the infection starts to spread lies close to 15 °C. Finally, we found that the shape of the transmission kernel is in line with the one from the 2006 epidemic. In conclusion, despite the substantial differences between 2006 and 2007 in temperature patterns (2006 featured a heat wave in July, whereas 2007 was more regular) and spatial epidemic extent, both the minimum temperature required for transmission and the transmission kernel were similar to those estimated for the 2006 outbreak, indicating that they are robust properties, suitable for extrapolation to other years and similar regions.