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


Date of this Version



Pepin KM, Golnar A, Podgórski T. 2021 Social structure defines spatial transmission of African swine fever in wild boar. J. R. Soc. Interface 18: 20200761. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2020.0761


U.S. government work


The spatial spread of infectious disease is determined by spatial and social processes such as animal space use and family group structure. Yet, the impacts of social processes on spatial spread remain poorly understood and estimates of spatial transmission kernels (STKs) often exclude social structure. Understanding the impacts of social structure on STKs is important for obtaining robust inferences for policy decisions and optimizing response plans. We fit spatially explicit transmission models with different assumptions about contact structure to African swine fever virus surveillance data from eastern Poland from 2014 to 2015 and evaluated how social structure affected inference of STKs and spatial spread. The model with social structure provided better inference of spatial spread, predicted that approximately 80% of transmission events occurred within family groups, and that transmission was weakly female-biased (other models predicted weakly male-biased transmission). In all models, most transmission events were within 1.5 km, with some rare events at longer distances. Effective reproductive numbers were between 1.1 and 2.5 (maximum values between 4 and 8). Social structure can modify spatial transmission dynamics. Accounting for this additional contact heterogeneity in spatial transmission models could provide more robust inferences of STKs for policy decisions, identify best control targets and improve transparency in model uncertainty.