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Descriptive spatial analysis of the epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Great Britain to June 1997
  1. M. A. Stevenson, MVSc,MACVSc1,
  2. R. S. Morris, MVSc, PhD,FACVSc1,
  3. D. U. Pfeiffer, DrMedVet,PhD, DiplTropVetMed,MACVSc1,1,
  4. D. Lin, BSc, EpiCentre1,
  5. J. W. Wilesmith, BVSc,MRCVS, HonMFPHM2,
  6. J. B. M. Ryan, BEd, MIBiol2 and
  7. A. B. Lawson, MA, MSc,PhD3
  1. 1 Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  2. 2 Epidemiology Department, Veterinary Laboratories Agency - Weybridge, New Haw, Addlestone, Surrey KT15 3NB
  3. 3 Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UE


This was a spatial analysis of the epidemic of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BsE) in Great Britain, based on agricultural census data collected between 1986 and 1996 and BSE case data collected up to June 1997. Kemel smoothing techniques were used to plot the distribution of BSE-positive cattle holdings per 100 holdings per square kilometre and the distribution of confirmed BSE cases per 100 head of cattle per square kilometre. In the early stages of the epidemic reported BSE cases were scattered widely throughout Great Britain, with no clearly identifiable focus. By June 1997, a statistically significant cluster of BSE-positive holdings was identifiable in the eastern part of the South west region of England. During the epidemic the highest densities of confirmed BSE cases per 100 cattle per square kilometre occurred in the greater part of the South west region of England and within Dyfed in the south west of Wales. In Wales, a small number of holdings experienced large numbers of confirmed BSE cases. In the South west region of England a large number of holdings experienced small numbers of confirmed cases. By June 1997, the distribution of BsE-positive holdings across Great Britain was largely determined by factors that influenced the amount of recycled infectious material they were exposed to.

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