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Spatial and temporal distribution of map in rabbit populations

Spatial and temporal distribution of Map in rabbit populations. Clustering of pathogens in the environment leads to hotspots of diseases at local, regional, national and international levels. Scotland contains regional hotspots of Map in rabbits. The spatial and temporal dynamics of paratuberculosis in rabbits were studied within a hotspot region with the overall aim of determining environmental patterns of infection and thus risk of inter-species transmission to livestock.

Specifically, to determine if prevalence of paratuberculosis in rabbits varies temporally between seasons and whether the heterogeneous spatial environmental distribution of Map at a large scale (i.e. regional hotspots) is replicated at finer resolutions within a hotspot. The overall prevalence of Map in rabbits was 39.7%; temporal distribution of infection in rabbits followed a cyclical pattern with a peak in Spring of 55.4% and a low in Summer of 19.4%.

Spatially, Map infected rabbits, and thus risk of inter-species transmission, were highly clustered in the environment. However, this is mostly due to the clustered distribution of rabbits. Understanding the spatial and temporal distributions of Map in rabbits enables better informed livestock management decisions to reduce risk of inter-species transmission.

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Michael HUTCHINGS
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