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Predicting vaccine effectiveness in livestock populations: A theoretical framework applied to PRRS virus infections in pigs

Vasiliki Bitsouni, Samantha Lycett*, Tanja Opriessnig, Andrea Doeschl-Wilson *EPIC scientist, Samantha Lycett contributed to this work funded by SRP Grants ISPG 2, Theme 2 and UoE Chancellor’s Fellowship

Vaccines remain one of the main tools to control infectious diseases in domestic livestock. Although a plethora of veterinary vaccines are on the market and routinely applied to protect animals against infection with particular pathogens, the disease in question often continues to persist, sometimes at high prevalence. The limited effectiveness of certain vaccines in the field leaves open questions regarding the required properties that an effective vaccine should have, as well as the most efficient vaccination strategy for achieving the intended goal of vaccination programmes. To date a systematic approach for studying the combined effects of different types of vaccines and vaccination strategies is lacking. In this paper, we develop a theoretical framework for modelling the epidemiological consequences of vaccination with imperfect vaccines of various types, administered using different strategies to herds with different replacement rates and heterogeneity in vaccine responsiveness. Applying the model to the Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), which despite routine vaccination remains one of the most significant endemic swine diseases worldwide, we then examine the influence of these diverse factors alone and in combination, on within-herd virus transmission. We derive threshold conditions for preventing infection invasion in the case of imperfect vaccines inducing limited sterilizing immunity. The model developed in this study has practical implications for the development of vaccines and vaccination programmes in livestock populations not only for PRRS, but also for other viral infections primarily transmitted by direct contact.

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