Monitoring and intervention strategies for bluetongue virus epidemics in rural India

Lead Research Organisation: Rothamsted Research
Department Name: Unlisted


This project will provide the first detailed programme of research concerning the epidemiology and control of vectors of bluetongue virus (BTV) in India to improve productivity of sheep husbandry by smallholders and landless workers in southern India.

A multidisciplinary approach involving mathematical modelling, entomology and chemical ecology will be used to examine the epidemiology of BTV in the southern Indian states and to produce prediction, monitoring and mitigation techniques that can reduce the impact of BT in this region. Mapping techniques, that delineate land areas according to climate and land use patterns, will be used to characterise southern India and establish field sites. Light trapping will be done to define adult seasonality and distribution of Culicoides midges with direct collection of Culicoides from livestock. These studies will be combined with detection of BTV within collected individual midges to define regional variation in which species are involved in transmission in southern India for the first time. The larval development sites of major vector species identified will then also be characterised via field investigations. Using data generated on adult seasonality, larval habitat preference and historic surveys of BT cases across southern India, we will then model the relationship between monsoon conditions and adult Culicoides/BT activity to assess the potential to produce an early warning system for major BTV epidemics.

The provision of fundamental epidemiological knowledge will enable an assessment of husbandry-based control techniques for Culicoides that could be employed to reduce BTV transmission by subsistence farmers in a cost-neutral fashion. We will examine traditional and novel means of control. The data will then be assessed for integration into the lives of user groups as part of wider dissemination frameworks for improvement of ruminant productivity and control of vectors of human and veterinary pathogens.


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