Assessing the role of long-distance translocation and spatial heterogeneity in the raccoon rabies epidemic in Connecticut

D. L. Smith, L. A. Waller, C. A. Russell, J. E. Childs, L. A. Real

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Spatial heterogeneity and long-distance translocation (LDT) play important roles in the spatio-temporal dynamics and management of emerging infectious diseases and invasive species. We assessed the influence of LDT events on the invasive spread of raccoon rabies through Connecticut. We identified several putative LDT events, and developed a network-model to evaluate whether they became new foci for epidemic spread. LDT was fairly common, but many of the LDTs were isolated events that did not spread. Two putative LDT events did appear to become nascent foci that affected the epidemic in surrounding townships. In evaluating the role of LDT, we simultaneously revisited the problem of spatial heterogeneity. The spread of raccoon rabies is associated with forest cover - rabies moves up to three-times slower through the most heavily forested townships compared with those with less forestation. Forestation also modified the effect of rivers. In the best overall model, rabies did not cross the river separating townships that were heavily forested, and the spread slowed substantially between townships that were lightly forested. Our results suggest that spatial heterogeneity can be used to enhance the effects of rabies control by focusing vaccine bait distribution along rivers in lightly forested areas. LDT events are a concern, but this analysis suggests that at a local scale they can be isolated and managed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-240
Number of pages16
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 12 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Rabies
  • Spatial heterogeneity, Long-distance dispersal
  • Spatial spread

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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