U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Miller, R.S., and K.M. Pepin. 2019. Board invited review: Prospects for improving management of animal disease introductions using disease-dynamic models. Journal of Animal Science 97(6):2291-2307. doi: 10.1093/jas/skz125


Management and policy decisions are continually made to mitigate disease introductions in animal populations despite often limited surveillance data or knowledge of disease transmission processes. Science-based management is broadly recognized as leading to more effective decisions yet application of models to actively guide disease surveillance and mitigate risks remains limited. Disease-dynamic models are an efficient method of providing information for management decisions because of their ability to integrate and evaluate multiple, complex processes simultaneously while accounting for uncertainty common in animal diseases. Here we review disease introduction pathways and transmission processes crucial for informing disease management and models at the interface of domestic animals and wildlife. We describe how disease transmission models can improve disease management and present a conceptual framework for integrating disease models into the decision process using adaptive management principles. We apply our framework to a case study of African swine fever virus in wild and domestic swine to demonstrate how disease-dynamic models can improve mitigation of introduction risk. We also identify opportunities to improve the application of disease models to support decision-making to manage disease at the interface of domestic and wild animals. First, scientists must focus on objective-driven models providing practical predictions that are useful to those managing disease. In order for practical model predictions to be incorporated into disease management a recognition that modeling is a means to improve management and outcomes is important. This will be most successful when done in a cross-disciplinary environment that includes scientists and decisionmakers representing wildlife and domestic animal health. Lastly, including economic principles of value-of-information and cost-benefit analysis in disease-dynamic models can facilitate more efficient management decisions and improve communication of model forecasts. Integration of disease-dynamic models into management and decision-making processes is expected to improve surveillance systems, risk mitigations, outbreak preparedness, and outbreak response activities.