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Prof Mike Hutchings

Research Interests

Mike Hutchings

Ecologist with a specific interest in the identification, characterisation and quantification of the key biological processes that drive disease persistence and spread in the livestock industries.

  • Research areas include:
  • The role of wildlife in the epidemiology of livestock disease;
  • The early detection of disease using animal behaviour;
  • The effects of host environment and farming practice on disease risk, persistence and spread;
  • The development and testing of disease control strategies (e.g. paratuberculosis, gastrointestinal parasitism, e-coli O157, bovine TB).

PhD Student Topics

  • Zara Gerrard – Phage based diagnostics for early detection of paratuberculosis in dairy cattle
  • Sokratis Ptochos – Environmental change impacts on sheep parasitism
  • Jolinda Pollock – Interactive effects of probiotics, nutrition and genotype on resistance and resilience to enteric challenges in weaned pigs
  • Gustaf Rydevik – Hindcasting epidemiological histories from cross sectional data
  • Laura Walton – The ecology of wildlife disease surveillance
  • Catherine Lutton – Bovine TB host communities in Spain
  • Jonas Malmsten – Moose population and pathogen dynamics
  • Kirsty Hughes – Transmission and control of e-coli O157
  • Naomi Fox – The effects of climate change on livestock disease risk
  • Jamie Prentice – Biological drivers of the perturbation effect
  • Leo Zijerveld – New models of bovine TB dynamics and control in badger populations
  • Jo Hardstaff – TB risk to livestock across Europe
  • Maija Marsh – The effect of behaviour in disease transmission: Understanding RHDV dynamics in Australian rabbit populations
  • Lesley Smith – Herbivore grazing decisions in relation to parasite distributions in the environment
  • Monika Bohm – Interaction patterns and the potential for disease transmission in wildlife-livestock systems
  • Johanna Judge – Rabbits as a host of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis

Veterinary Epidemiology Masters Programme

MSc/Dip/Cert in Veterinary Epidemiology.

Vet Epi flyer


Veterinary epidemiology is a key component in the global grand challenges of disease control, food security and climate change. Consequently, there is a need to improve our ability to understand and predict disease dynamics, and control outbreaks.

Through our multidisciplinary systems approach you will learn about the fundamental drivers of disease dynamics and patterns of infection seen in animal host communities. It focusses on biological processes (e.g. animal behaviour, physiology, ecology) and how these interact with management practices (e.g. husbandry, nutrition, livestock trade) to determine disease transmission, persistence, and prevalence. Scaling up from individuals to populations enables in-depth understanding of complex environmental patterns of disease, which facilitates prediction of disease risk and control.  The systems approach offers a way to frame epidemiological challenges and problem solve disease risk at a range of scales; from veterinarians tackling specific outbreaks, to the consequences of climate change on disease risk.

The courses in this flexible programme train you in methods for design, implementation, analysis, interpretation and communication of epidemiological studies, disease surveillance and disease control. This will enable you to have an impact on animal health, welfare and productivity in your own region. Email:


Example Projects

  • ​​​​​​The dynamics of antimicrobial resistance gene prevalence on a commercial pig farm: implications for policy - NERC
  • Innovations in aquaculture: Delivering operational methods for the control of infectious disease – Scottish Government
  • PrOPara. Tackling the parasitological challenges arising from organic farming practices - EU Core Organic Plus ERA-NET
  • Development and testing of Operational Models of Bovine Tuberculosis in British Cattle and Badgers - Defra
  • A systems modelling approach to the persistence and control of E. coli O157 – SG
  • Inferring and quantifying between-animal variation in population data, focussing on the genetic control of disease resistance - SG
  • Animal welfare and climate change: impacts, adaptations, mitigation and risks - Defra
  • A strategic review of recent past and current research programmes relating to the effects of environmental change on animal, plant and human health – SG
  • WildTech - Novel Technologies for Surveillance of Emerging and Re-emerging Infections of Wildlife - EU
  • To develop a cost effective and practical method to reduce E.coli O157 infection in cattle prior to slaughter - Defra
  • TB-Step. Strategies for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis - EU
  • Climate change impacts on the livestock sector - Defra
  • ParaTB-Tools - Development of improved tools for detection of paratuberculosis in livestock, M. paratuberculosis in food and for the assessment of the risk of human exposure - EU
  • Causes of local variation in the impact of RHDV - National Feral Animal Control Program (Australia)
  • VENoMYC – Veterinary network of laboratories research into improved diagnosis and epidemiology of Mycobacterial diseases - EU
  • Ecology of Disease: spatial hierarchy and agricultural systems biosecurity – SEERAD Senior Research Fellowship.
  • Role of rabbits and the environment in the epidemiology of paratuberculosis of farmed ruminants - SEERAD
  • The role of wildlife in the epidemiology of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in domestic ruminants in Europe - EU
  • Understanding the route of TB transmission from badgers to cattle - MAFF
  • Role of wildlife in the epidemiology of M. a. paratuberculosis in ruminants - SEERAD

Recent publications (last 5 years)

  • Prentice, J.C., Marion, G., Hutchings, M.R., McNeilly, T.N. & Matthews, L. (2017). Complex responses to movement based disease control: when livestock trading helps. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 14, 20160531.
  • Pritchard, T.C., Coffey, M.P., Bond, K.S., Hutchings, M.R. & Wall, E. (2017). Phenotypic effects of subclinical paratuberculosis (Johne’s disease) in dairy cattle. Journal of Dairy Science, 100, 679-690.
  • Rydevik, G., Innocent, G.T., Marion, G., Davidson, R., White, PCL., Billinis, C., Barrow, P., Mertens, P.C., Gavier-Widén, D., Hutchings, M.R. (2016). Using combined diagnostic test results to hindcast trends of infection from cross-sectional data. PLoS Computational Biology, 12(7): e1004901. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004901
  • Walton, L., Marion, G., Davidson, R., White, P.C.L., Smith, L., Gavier-Widen, D., Yon, L., Hannant, D., Hutchings, M.R. (2016). The ecology of wildlife disease surveillance: demographic and prevalence fluctuations undermine surveillance. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53, 1460-1469.
  • Giannakopoulos, A., Valiakos, G., Papaspyropoulos, K., Dougas, G., Korou, LM., Tasioudi, KE.,  Fthenakis, GC., Hutchings, M.R., Kaimaras, D., Tsokana, CN., Iliadou, P., Spyrou, V., Tzani, M., Birtsas, P., Kostoglou, P., Sokos, C., Doudounakis, S., Yon, L., Hannant, D., Artois, M., Tsiodras, S., Hadjichristodoulou, C., Billinis, C. (2016). Rabies outbreak in Greece during 2012–2014: use of Geographical Information System for analysis, risk assessment and control. Epidemiology & Infection, 144, 3068-3079.
  • Fox, N.J., Marion, G., Davidson, R.S., White, P.C.L., Hutchings, M.R. (2015). Climate-driven tipping-points could lead to sudden, high-intensity parasite outbreaks. Royal Society Open Science 2, 140296
  • Ciliberti, A., Gavier-Widén, D., Yon, L., Hutchings, M.R. & Artois, M. (2015). Prioritisation of wildlife pathogens to be targeted in European surveillance programmes: Expert-based risk analysis focus on ruminants. Preventative Veterinary medicine, 118 (4), 271-284
  • Athanasiadou, S., Russell, K.M., Kaiser, P., Kanellos, T.,  Burgess, S.T.G.,  Mitchell, M.,  Clutton, E.,  Naylor, S.W., Low, C.J., Hutchings, M.R. & Sparks, N.H.C. (2015). Genome-wide transcriptomic analysis identifies pathways affected by the infusion of Clostridium perfringens culture supernatant in the duodenum of broilers in situ. Journal of Animal Science, 93, 3152-3163.
  • Hestvik, G., Warns-Petit, E., Smith, LA., Fox, NJ., Uhlhorn H., Artois, M., Hannant, D., Hutchings, MR., Mattsson, R., Yon, L., Gavier-Widen, D. (2015). The status of tularemia in Europe in a one-health context: a review. Epidemiology & Infection, 143 (10), 2137-2160.
  • Cowie, C.E., Hutchings, M.R., Barasona, J.A., Gortázar, C. Vicente, J., White P.C.L. (2015). Interactions between four species in a complex wildlife: livestock disease community: implications for M. bovis maintenance and transmission. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 62, 51-64
  • Cowie, C.E., Gortázar, C., White, P.C.L, Hutchings, M.R. & Vicente, J. (2015). Stakeholder opinions on the practicality of management interventions to control bovine tuberculosis. The Veterinary Journal, 204, 179-185
  • Corbishley, A., Ahmad, N.I., Hughes, K., Hutchings, M.R., McAteer, S.P., Connelley, T.K., Brown, H.,  Gally, D.L., McNeilly, T.N.. (2014). Strain dependent cellular immune responses in cattle following Escherichia coli O157: H7 colonisation. Infection and Immunity, 82 (12), 5117-5131.
  • Prentice, J.C., Marion, G., White, P.C.L., Davidson, R.S. & Hutchings, M.R. (2014). Demographic processes drive increases in wildlife disease following population reduction. PLoS ONE, 9, e86563.
  • Valiakos, G., Papaspyropoulos, K., Giannakopoulos, A., Birtsas, P., Tsiodras, S., Hutchings, M.R., Spyrou, V., Pervanidou, D., Athanasiou, L., Papadopoulos, N., Tsokana, C., Baka, A., Manolakou, K., Chatzopoulos, D., Artois, M., Yon, L., Hannant, D., Petrovska, L., Hadjichristodoulou, C., Billinis, C. (2014). Use of wild bird surveillance, human case data and GIS spatial analysis for predicting spatial distributions of West Nile virus in Greece. PLoS ONE, 9 (5), e96935.
  • Malmsten, J., Söderquist, L., Thulin, C., Gavier Widén, D., Yon, L., Hutchings, M.R. & Dalin, A. (2014). Reproductive characteristics in female Swedish moose (Alces alces), with emphasis on puberty, timing of oestrus, and mating. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, 56:23
  • Hardstaff, J.L., Marion, G., Hutchings, M.R. & White, P.C.L. (2014). Evaluating the tuberculosis hazard posed to cattle from wildlife across Europe. Research in Veterinary Science, 97, S86-S93.
  • Malmsten, J., Gavier Widen, D., Rydevik, G., Yon, L., Hutchings, M.R., Thulin, C.G., Soderquist, L., Aspan, A., Stuen, S. & Dalin, A.M. (2014). Temporal and spatial variation in Anaplasma phagocytphilum infection in Swedish moose (Alces alces). Epidemiology & Infection, 142, 1205-1213.
  • Fox, N.J., Marion, G., Davidson, R.S., White, P.C.L. & Hutchings, M.R. (2013). Modelling parasite transmission in a grazing system: The importance of host behaviour and immunity. PLoS ONE, e77996
  • Anderson, L.G., Gortazar, C., Vicente, J., Hutchings, M.R., White, P.C.L. (2013). Modelling the effectiveness of vaccination in controlling bovine tuberculosis in wild boar. Wildlife Research, 40, 367-376.
  • Shaughnessy, L.J., Smith, L.A., Evans, J., Anderson, D., Caldow, G., Marion, G., Low, J.C. & Hutchings, M.R. (2013). High prevalence of paratuberculosis in rabbits is associated with difficulties in controlling the disease in cattle. The Veterinary Journal, 198, 267-270.
  • Cowie, C.E., Beck, BB., Gortazar, C., Vicente, J., Hutchings, M.R., Moran, D. & White P.C.L. (2013). Risk factors for the detected presence of Mycobacterium bovis in south central Spain. European Journal of Wildlife Research, 60 (1), 113-123.
  • Hardstaff, J.L., Bulling, M.T., Marion, G., Hutchings, M.R. & White, P.C.L. (2013). Modelling the impact of vaccination on tuberculosis in badgers. Epidemiology & Infection, 201, 1417-1427.
  • Davidson, R.S., McKendrick, I.J., Wood, J.C., Marion, G., Greig, A., Stevenson, K., Sharp, M., Hutchings, M.R. (2012). Accounting for uncertainty in model based risk assessment: paratuberculosis control in dairy herds. BMC Veterinary Research, 8, 159.
  • Hardstaff, J.L., Bulling, M.T., Marion, G., Hutchings, M.R. & White, P.C.L (2012). Impact of external sources of infection on the dynamics of bovine tuberculosis in modelled badger populations. BMC Veterinary Research, 8, 52.
  • Bessell, P.R., Orton, R., White, P.C.L., Hutchings, M.R. & Kao, R.R. (2012).Risk factors for bovine Tuberculosis at the national level in Great Britain. BMC Veterinary Research, 8, 91.
  • Fox, N.J., Marion, G., Davidson, R.S., White, P.C.L. & Hutchings, M.R. (2012) Livestock helminths in a changing climate: approaches and restrictions to meaningful predictions. Animals 2, 93-107.

Prof Mike Hutchings

Professor of Disease Systems / Team Leader - Disease Systems

Address: Animal & Veterinary Sciences, SRUC, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG

Telephone: 0131 651 9340

Fax: 0131 535 3121