Abstract for: Development of an Agent Based Epidemiological Model of Beef Cattle

We began to develop an agent-based epidemiological model of animal disease propagation within the beef and dairy industries. Model development was done in context of a consortium of interested parties including the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Extension Service, the New Mexico Livestock Board (NMLB), ranchers representing the beef industry, and farmers representing the dairy industry. The model required a thorough understanding of the life cycles for commodity livestock, especially the transportation and mixing that occurs as part-and-parcel of how production and commerce is practiced. Once this detailed network of animal movement and interaction is articulated within the model, we can simulate the introduction of disease at any given location and track its propagation. The model will serve to understand how inter-operation transfer of livestock can impact the likelihood and magnitude of infectious disease outbreaks. With this understanding, the cost-effectiveness of current and proposed prevention and monitoring strategies, as well as mitigation strategies, can be assessed. Our first focus for model application may be the propagation of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in beef cattle. In subsequent work, we would like to expand the computational model to include dairy cattle, and to consider the propagation of other diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and Rift Valley fever.