The economic value of R0 for selective breeding against microparasitic diseases

Kasper Janssen*, Piter Bijma

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Microparasitic diseases are caused by bacteria and viruses. Genetic improvement of resistance to microparasitic diseases in breeding programs is desirable and should aim at reducing the basic reproduction ratio [Formula: see text]. Recently, we developed a method to derive the economic value of [Formula: see text] for macroparasitic diseases. In epidemiological models for microparasitic diseases, an animal's disease status is treated as infected or not infected, resulting in a definition of [Formula: see text] that differs from that for macroparasitic diseases. Here, we extend the method for the derivation of the economic value of [Formula: see text] to microparasitic diseases. METHODS: When [Formula: see text], the economic value of [Formula: see text] is zero because the disease is very rare. When [Formula: see text]. is higher than 1, genetic improvement of [Formula: see text] can reduce expenditures on vaccination if vaccination induces herd immunity, or it can reduce production losses due to disease. When vaccination is used to achieve herd immunity, expenditures are proportional to the critical vaccination coverage, which decreases with [Formula: see text]. The effect of [Formula: see text] on losses is considered separately for epidemic and endemic disease. Losses for epidemic diseases are proportional to the probability and size of major epidemics. Losses for endemic diseases are proportional to the infected fraction of the population at the endemic equilibrium. RESULTS: When genetic improvement reduces expenditures on vaccination, expenditures decrease with [Formula: see text] at an increasing rate. When genetic improvement reduces losses in epidemic or endemic diseases, losses decrease with [Formula: see text] at an increasing rate. Hence, in all cases, the economic value of [Formula: see text] increases as [Formula: see text] decreases towards 1. DISCUSSION: [Formula: see text] and its economic value are more informative for potential benefits of genetic improvement than heritability estimates for survival after a disease challenge. In livestock, the potential for genetic improvement is small for epidemic microparasitic diseases, where disease control measures limit possibilities for phenotyping. This is not an issue in aquaculture, where controlled challenge tests are performed in dedicated facilities. If genetic evaluations include infectivity, genetic gain in [Formula: see text] can be accelerated but this would require different testing designs. CONCLUSIONS: When [Formula: see text], its economic value is zero. The economic value of [Formula: see text] is highest at low values of [Formula: see text] and approaches zero at high values of [Formula: see text].

Original languageEnglish
Article number3
JournalGenetics, selection, evolution : GSE
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020


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