Host condition and individual risk of cowpox virus infection in natural animal populations

P. M. Beldomenico, Sandra Elizabeth Telfer, L. Lukomski, S. Gebert, M. Bennett, M. Begon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Recent studies have provided evidence that endemic pathogens may affect dynamics in animals. However, such studies have not typically considered that infected individuals might have a preceding underlying poor condition. We examined whether individuals in poor condition are more likely to become infected by an endemic pathogen, using as a system the dynamics of cowpox virus in field voles. With data from monthly sampled vole populations, a nested case-control study evaluated whether Susceptible individuals with poorer condition had higher probabilities of contracting cowpox. The influence of condition was found to be considerable, especially for males. At times when a susceptible male with good body condition had a relatively low probability of becoming infected., a susceptible male with poor body condition was twice as likely to contract cowpox; if this male was also anaemic, the chances were almost quadrupled. We discuss the care needed when interpreting the findings of wildlife disease studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1301
Number of pages7
JournalEpidemiology and Infection
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Cowpox
  • disease ecology
  • Microtus
  • population dynamics
  • wildlife disease
  • microtus-agrestis populations
  • field vole populations
  • reservoir hosts
  • survival
  • dependence
  • decreases
  • density
  • rodent
  • health
  • mice


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