An impulsive differential equation model for Marek's disease
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Many dynamical processes are subject to abrupt changes in state. Often these perturbations can be periodic and of short duration relative to the evolving process. These types of phenomena are described well by what are referred to as impulsive differential equations, systems of differential equations coupled with discrete mappings in state space. In this thesis we employ impulsive differential equations to model disease transmission within an industrial livestock barn. In particular we focus on the poultry industry and a viral disease of poultry called Marek's disease. This system lends itself well to impulsive differential equations. Entire cohorts of poultry are introduced and removed from a barn concurrently. Additionally, Marek's disease is transmitted indirectly and the viral particles can survive outside the host for weeks. Therefore, depopulating, cleaning, and restocking of the barn are integral factors in modelling disease transmission and can be completely captured by the impulsive component of the model. Our model allows us to investigate how modern broiler farm practices can make disease elimination difficult or impossible to achieve. It also enables us to investigate factors that may contribute to virulence evolution. Our model suggests that by decrease the cohort duration or by decreasing the flock density, Marek's disease can be eliminated from a barn with no increase in cleaning effort. Unfortunately our model also suggests that these practices will lead to disease evolution towards greater virulence. Additionally, our model suggests that if intensive cleaning between cohorts does not rid the barn of disease, it may drive evolution and cause the disease to become more virulent.