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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details

Devenish-Nelson, E.S., Richards, S.A., Harris, S., Soulsbury, C.D. & Stephens, P.A. (2014). Demonstrating frequency-dependent transmission of sarcoptic mange in red foxes. Biology Letters 10(10): 20140524.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Understanding the relationship between disease transmission and host density is essential for predicting disease spread and control. Using long-term data on sarcoptic mange in a red fox Vulpes vulpes population, we tested long-held assumptions of density- and frequency-dependent direct disease transmission. We also assessed the role of indirect transmission. Contrary to assumptions typical of epidemiological models, mange dynamics are better explained by frequency-dependent disease transmission than by density-dependent transmission in this canid. We found no support for indirect transmission. We present the first estimates of R0 and age-specific transmission coefficients for mange in foxes. These parameters are important for managing this poorly understood but highly contagious and economically damaging disease.