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Title: Network models of live fish movements and disease spread in Scottish aquaculture
Author: Werkman, Marleen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2716 5497
Awarding Body: University of Stirling
Current Institution: University of Stirling
Date of Award: 2012
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The Scottish salmon industry is facing challenges in the control of aquatic infectious disease, as is the case in other countries such as Chile and Norway. Disease outbreaks can have an enormous economic impact and possibly affect wild fish populations. Disease transmission in an aquatic environment is complex and there are several transmission routes (vertical transmission, natural reservoirs, hydrodynamic transmission and long-distance movements). Effective control methods such as vaccines are not available in all cases and therefore disease prevention remains a priority. In livestock, epidemiological network models have been proven to be a highly useful tool to investigate the role of different transmission routes on the course of epidemics and have the potential to provide the same utility for aquatic networks. Understanding the complex contact network will result in more effective disease prevention, surveillance systems and control strategies. The aim of this thesis was to investigate the Scottish live fish movement network and its consequences for pathogen transmission between farms in order to develop and optimize control strategies for epidemics. The main objective of chapter 3 was to investigate the effect of different fallowing strategies on the spread of diseases with different transmission properties. A network model was constructed that included both local transmission and long-distance transmission. The basic structure of this network was a ring model where neighbours within a management area could infect each other and non-local transmission occurred at random. The results showed that when long-distance transmission was under reasonable control in comparison with local transmission risk, synchronized fallowing at the management area level was potentially a highly effective tool in the control of infectious diseases. Chapter 4 presents a detailed description of the number of live fish movements and their timing for Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Scottish aquaculture. For this, movement records from 2002 to 2004 were provided by Marine Scotland, Aberdeen. Salmon are anadromous and have a freshwater (FW) and seawater phase (SW). Scottish live fish movements can be divided in FW-FW, FW-SW, SW-SW, SW-FW and “other” movements. The latter are mainly movements from and to research sites. This study showed that the contact structure and timing of live fish movements are seasonal and differ largely between production phases. Disease control measures should take these differences into account to optimize their strategies. In chapter 4, live fish movements were shown to be seasonal; therefore in chapter 5 the main aim was to quantify the effects of seasonality of live fish movements on the course of epidemics. The results showed that the sequence of salmon movements is important for the course of an epidemic. Seasonality is important when local transmission is higher than 0.05 per contact per week and when the movements are not clustered and when movements do not occur in a specific order based on the specific assumptions made in this model. In conclusion, this thesis described the complex live fish movement structure of salmon in Scotland and showed that biosecurity in SW farms is good but could be further improved if all management areas apply synchronized fallowing. The results of this study suggest that biosecurity between freshwater sites could be improved by the application of a system similar to management areas in SW farms.
Supervisor: Turnbull, James F. ; Green, Darren M. ; Murray, Sandy G. Sponsor: Marine Scotland Science
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Epidemiology ; Aquaculture ; Live fish movements ; Disease spread ; Salmon industry Scotland ; Fishes Diseases