The Social Transmission of Disease in Dogs

In September 2015 I started a PhD at the University of Exeter. Under the supervision of Prof. Robbie McDonald (University of Exeter), Prof. Darren Croft (University of Exeter), Dr. Sarah Perkins (University of Cardiff) and Dr. Euan Ritchie (University of Deakin) I will investigate the social transmission of diseases in dingoes and free-roaming domestic dogs.

Emerging infectious diseases often originate from non-human animals and pose a significant threat to welfare, economics and conservation efforts. There is an increasing awareness that the dynamics of animal social groups, particularly variation in contact rates, is an important consideration if we are to successfully predict and prevent disease epidemics.


To date there has been no social network constructed for free-roaming domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris). This is surprising considering that dogs have a global distribution that is highly correlated to that of humans. Furthermore, 70% of the known viruses and parasites that infect dogs are shared with other wildlife and many of these diseases are zoonotic.


My research will involve the use of radio tracking technology and social network theory to characterize the movements and contact rates of free-roaming domestic dogs. These networks will identify individuals that disproportionately contribute to the transmission of disease and help to better predict the spread of disease.


Copyright Jared Wilson-Aggarwal - JWA 2015