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Zoonoses, Livestock & Wildlife diseases

Some of the most threatening diseases are zoonotic - meaning that they can spread from an animal reservior to humans, examples include ebola, rabies, avian 'flu and plague. SBIDER has considerable experience of studying infectious diseases in animals, both livestock and wildlife, and the potential onwards transmission to humans. This ranges from relatively theoretical work that seeks to understand the random spill-over of infection from wildlife to humans, to policy-driven research that aims to address pressing public-health issues.


By understanding both the human and animal populations, and their interactions, we are able to predict the spread and control of a range of zoonoses and inform preventative policy:

  • Avian Influenza as the name suggests is a form of 'flu that is primarily spread between birds. There is considerable concern over H5N1 and N7H9 (two particular forms of flu), due to their very high mortality rate in wild birds and domestic poultry, as well as humans - although transmission to humans is rare.
  • Leishmania is the second most deadly parasitic disease in the world following malaria. Our work examines the role of dogs as a reservoir of infection in Brazil, and how insecticide treatment can lower the incidence in humans.
  • Plague is well known as an historical infection, but it remains wide-spread throughout much of the world. Our research focuses on the optimal use of vaccines to combat local outbreaks.
  • Rabies is spread through bites from infected dogs (or other animals). We work closely with public and veterinary health agencies in S.E. Asia to understand the patterns of incidence and hence the best methods of control.

Animal diseases

Many infections cannot (easily) spread between animals and humans, in these cases the aim is conserve a wildlife species or to limit losses to livestock.

  • Bovine Tuberculosis is a hugely controversial disease in the UK due to the uncertainty surrounding the role of bagers in maintainance and transmission. Our work spans from understanding policy drivers, to field work to mathematical and statistical modelling.
  • Foot-and-Mouth Disease is one of the most highly transmissible of any livestock disease. While much of our early work focused on the 2001 outbreak in the UK, we are now translating this experience to other countries, particularly areas where foot-and-mouth disease is endemic.
  • Footrot, this little-known infection is hugely debilitating for sheep and causes huge losses for the industry. Work in Warwick spans a range of approaches from field to lab to computer.
  • Honey-bees are in severe decline in many areas of the world, affecting the pollination of key crop species. Our research has focused on how diseases (foulbrood and varroa) and predators (asian hornets)

Funded by:


SBIDER people involved:

Orin Courtenay

Erin Gorsich

Matt Keeling

Mike Tildesley