Domestic dogs display complex roaming behaviours, which need to be captured to more realistically model the spread of rabies. We have previously shown that roaming behaviours of domestic dogs can be categorised as stay-at-home, roamer and explorer in the Northern Peninsular Area (NPA), Queensland, Australia. These roaming behaviours are likely to cause heterogeneous contact rates that influence the speed or pattern of rabies spread in a dog population. The aim of this study was to define contact spatial kernels using the overlap of individual dog utilisation distributions to describe the daily probability of contact between pairs of dogs exhibiting these three a priori roaming behaviours. We further aimed to determine if the kernels lead to different predicted rabies outbreaks (outbreak duration and number of rabid dogs) by incorporating the spatial kernels into a previously developed rabies spread model for the NPA. Spatial kernels created with both dogs in a pair being explorers or one dog explorer and one dog roamer (who roamed away from their residence) produced short but large outbreaks compared with spatial kernels with at least one stay-at-home dog. Outputs from this model incorporating heterogeneous contacts demonstrate how roaming behaviours influence disease spread in domestic dog populations.
Hudson, E., Brookes, V., Ward, M., & Durr, S. (2019). Using roaming behaviours of dogs to estimate contact rates: The predicted effect on rabies spread. Epidemiology and Infection , 147, 1-11. [e135]. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0950268819000189