Scientific Reports

Bayesian optimisation of restriction zones for bluetongue control

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We investigate the restriction of animal movements as a method to control the spread of bluetongue, an infectious disease of livestock that is becoming increasingly prevalent due to the onset of climate change. We derive control policies for the UK that minimise the number of infected farms during an outbreak using Bayesian optimisation and a simulation-based model of BT. Two cases are presented: first, where the region of introduction is randomly selected from England and Wales to find a generalised strategy. This “national” model is shown to be just as effective at subduing the spread of bluetongue as the current strategy of the UK government. Our proposed controls are simpler to implement, affect fewer farms in the process and, in so doing, minimise the potential economic implications. Second, we consider policies that are tailored to the specific region in which the first infection was detected. Seven different regions in the UK were explored and improvements in efficiency from the use of specialised policies presented. As a consequence of the increasing temperatures associated with climate change, efficient control measures for vector-borne diseases such as this are expected to become increasingly important. Our work demonstrates the potential value of using Bayesian optimisation in developing cost-effective disease management strategies.


15 Sep 2020


Scientific Reports