The application of a computer model called Rimpuff for simulating the airborne spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is described. Rimpuff is more sophisticated and accurate than other FMD simulation models previously described. It can be run on a desktop computer and performs analyses very quickly. It can be linked to a geographical information system and so the information generated can be integrated with geographical and demographical data for display in a format that can be easily assimilated and transmitted electronically. The system was validated using historical data from outbreaks of FMD in France and the UK in 1981, and from Denmark and the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1982. A very good fit was obtained between the direction of the plumes of virus simulated by the model and the spread of disease from France to the UK in 1981. Although cattle in the UK were infected during the episode, the concentrations of airborne virus in the plumes simulated by the model were beneath the infectivity threshold for cattle. It was concluded from the analysis that the number of pigs infected in France, and therefore the source concentration of airborne virus, was probably much higher than was recorded at the time of the outbreaks. Analysis of the Denmark/GDR episode pointed to the possibility that the source of virus for the 1982 epidemic in Denmark could have been one or more unreported outbreaks involving pigs in the former GDR.
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