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In North America, the raccoon-associated variant of rabies virus (RRV) is of special concern, given its relatively rapid spread throughout the eastern USA and its potential public health impact due to high raccoon host densities in urban areas. Northward expansion of this epizootic included an outbreak in the Canadian province of Quebec in 2006–2009 due to trans-border spread from the State of Vermont. To inform a more proactive approach to future control efforts, this study uses phylogenetic analyses to explore the role of geography and alternative carnivore hosts in the dynamics of RRV spread within Vermont. Specifically, we sought to examine whether striped skunks, a species frequently infected by RRV, could be part of the maintenance host community. Whole genome sequencing of 160 RRV samples from Vermont and neighbouring US states were used for fine-scale phylogeographic analyses. Results, together with the complete surveillance record of raccoon rabies since its entry into Vermont in 1994, document incursions by two distinct viral lineages and identify topographical features of the landscape which have significantly influenced viral spread, resulting in a complex distribution pattern of viral variants throughout the state. Results of phylogenetic cluster analysis and discrete state reconstruction contained some evidence of skunk-to-skunk and skunk-to-raccoon transmission but overall failed to support a role for skunks as alternative maintenance hosts.
Landscape epidemiology and landscape genetics combine advances in molecular techniques, spatial analyses and epidemiological models to generate a more real-world understanding of infectious disease dynamics and provide powerful new tools for the study of RNA viruses. Using dog rabies as a model we have identified how key questions regarding viral spread and persistence can be addressed using a combination of these techniques. In contrast to wildlife rabies, investigations into the landscape epidemiology of domestic dog rabies requires more detailed assessment of the role of humans in disease spread, including the incorporation of anthropogenic landscape features, human movements and socio-cultural factors into spatial models. In particular, identifying and quantifying the influence of anthropogenic features on pathogen spread and measuring the permeability of dispersal barriers are important considerations for planning control strategies, and may differ according to cultural, social and geographical variation across countries or continents. Challenges for dog rabies research include the development of metapopulation models and transmission networks using genetic information to uncover potential source/sink dynamics and identify the main routes of viral dissemination. Information generated from a landscape genetics approach will facilitate spatially strategic control programmes that accommodate for heterogeneities in the landscape and therefore utilise resources in the most cost-effective way. This can include the efficient placement of vaccine barriers, surveillance points and adaptive management for large-scale control programmes.
In the late autumn of 1968 gravel-quarrying at Aldwincle, Northants., brought to light a timber bridge of the Roman period. The working face of the gravel-pit fortunately coincided with one side of the bridge, and thereby exposed the structure in section (PL. IX A). Excavation of the bridge was carried out by D. A. Jackson during the winter of 1968/9 under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Public Building and Works.
A Roman Villa at Weekley in Northamptonshire (SP 885 818) was first referred to by eighteenth-century antiquaries, who stated that ‘pavements, foundations, pottery and a great deal of money’ had been ploughed up in a field known as Castle Hedges. The site of these discoveries is one mile north-east of what appears to be a fairly extensive Roman settlement on the northern outskirts of Kettering. The area is now under threat from ironstone-quarrying, and preliminary surveys were carried out during 1970 both from the air and on the ground. These indicate that the site began in the late Iron Age with a series of enclosures and occupation subsequently continued into the Roman period. A number of pottery kilns were found which probably date to the third quarter of the first century A.D.
The site was first occupied in the Bronze Age by a small agricultural settlement, consisting of two circular timber houses with ancillary structures and ditches. One house was eventually replaced by a stone structure. A single radiocarbon determination suggests that the settlement is to be dated within the period 1700–1300 B.C. The Iron Age settlement of Trevisker Round was probably established in the second century B.C., if not earlier. An original inner enclosure, half an acre in area, housing a single defended farmstead, was later superseded by a larger defended enclosure, 3 acres in area, also with circular timber houses and occupation areas. This occupation was followed at the end of the first century A.D., by a Romano-British phase of occupation, which lasted until the middle of the second century.