Zoonoses are defined as any disease, which is primarily of animals, but that can be transmitted to humans. Obviously, Bubonic Plague is a prime example, but other such diseases include Hanta virus, Ebola, West-Nile fever and Lyme's disease. With zoonoses it is important to consider the disease dynamics within the primary animal host, as well as within the human population. Work with Chris Gilligan on Bubonic Plague has highlighted some interesting historical and contempory issues. The occasional epidemics of bubonic plague may not be due to irregular imports of infection, but can be generated by the disease entering a low prevelence endemic state in the rat population. Secondly, control by eradication of rats may be problematic, as this can often release many infected fleas into the environment.
Future work will examine the incidence of Bubonic Plague in India, for which there is good spatio-temporal data from 1890-1950. I also want to develop an intuitive understanding of zoonoses in general, using simple equations for fluctuating animal populations.
MJ Keeling and CA Gilligan (2000) Metapopulation dynamics of bubonic plague Nature 407 903-906
MJ Keeling and CA Gilligan (2000) Bubonic Plague: A Metapopulation Model of a Zoonosis Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond. B 267 2219-2230