Improvement of management strategies of epidemics is often hampered by constraints on experiments at large spatiotemporal scales. A promising approach consists of modelling the biological epidemic process and human interventions, which both impact disease spread. However, few methods enable the simultaneous optimisation of the numerous parameters of sophisticated control strategies. To do so, we propose a heuristic approach (i.e., a practical improvement method approximating an optimal solution) based on sequential sensitivity analyses. In addition, we use an economic improvement criterion, based on the net present value, accounting for both the cost of the different control measures and the benefit generated by disease suppression. This work is motivated by sharka (caused by Plum pox virus), a vector-borne disease of prunus trees (especially apricot, peach and plum) whose management in orchards is mainly based on surveillance and tree removal. We identified the key parameters of a spatiotemporal model simulating sharka spread and control, and approximated optimal values for these parameters. The results indicate that the current French management of sharka efficiently controls the disease, but can be economically improved using alternative strategies that are identified and discussed. The general approach should help policymakers to design sustainable and cost-effective strategies for disease management.
Improving management strategies of plant diseases using sequential sensitivity analyses
9 April 2019